published Sunday, January 27th, 2013

As Polk County search winds down, bodies elude rescue teams

Bradley County Fire & Rescue workers Matt Ballard, left, and Mike Tyndall use their kayaks to help search for the bodies of an adult and two young children who went missing after a boat they were in overturned last Wednesday. The accident happened near Delano and Conasauga creeks, in the small town of Delano, Tenn., near the Polk-McMinn county line.
Bradley County Fire & Rescue workers Matt Ballard, left, and Mike Tyndall use their kayaks to help search for the bodies of an adult and two young children who went missing after a boat they were in overturned last Wednesday. The accident happened near Delano and Conasauga creeks, in the small town of Delano, Tenn., near the Polk-McMinn county line.
Photo by Dan Henry.

Two members of a Mennonite family in Polk County remained missing Saturday as an intense search wound down.

Ten days of searching in teams sometimes numbering more than 100 people have failed to locate Nick Alley, 36, or his 7-year-old daughter, Helana Alley.

On Jan. 16, a canoe carrying Alley and five of his children tipped over on Conasauga Creek. Three children escaped the floodwaters, but Alley, Helana and 6-year-old Lazarus Alley did not. Rescuers discovered Lazarus' body Thursday, and the community held a funeral Friday.

Teams from Polk County, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and several other agencies have cleared branches and paddled in kayaks looking for the bodies, but they are scaling back the search.

"We've pretty much extended our resources to the point where we know we can't keep doing this every day," said Stephen Lofty, chief of West Polk Fire and Rescue.

On Saturday, rescuers found an article of children's clothing, but that was all.

A team of about five people may continue the search this week, Lofty said, walking the creek banks once in the morning and once at night. Some people may search the area with dogs, while others in wetsuits may dive.

"If we do anything more extensive," Lofty said, "it's gonna be next Saturday. "

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