Search continues for last victim of fatal SUV plunge into Alabama's Weiss Lake

Search continues for last victim of fatal SUV plunge into Alabama's Weiss Lake

December 28th, 2016 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Weiss Lake

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The search continues today for the remaining victim of an SUV's Dec. 13 plunge into Alabama's Weiss Lake near Leesburg that claimed the lives of four others and injured two more.

Alabama State Troopers are out at first light Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, to search for the missing victim in the crash of an SUV at Leesburg Landing in Cherokee County, Ala. (William Thornton/AL.com via AP)

Alabama State Troopers are out at first light...

Photo by William Thornton

Alabama State Troopers arrive, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, to search for a missing victim after a vehicle drove off a boat landing Tuesday in northeastern Alabama at Leesburg Landing in Cherokee County, Ala. An official says four people are dead and that crews are searching for a fifth person. (William Thornton/AL.com via AP)

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Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Rescue personnel, volunteers and law enforcement in Cherokee County, Ala., spent the daylight hours of the holiday weekend searching the stretch of the Coosa River that forms the western end of Weiss Lake, downstream from where Bobby Shore is believed to have gone under the water after initially escaping the SUV that sank in 18 feet of water, officials said.

Dr. Jeremy Deaton, Cherokee County's coroner, said Tuesday that cadaver dogs were used again over the weekend and that crews have diligently searched the lake and repeatedly retraced their steps.

Deaton said it was possible that Shore's body was caught in debris on the riverbed. The Coosa River is 40 feet at its deepest on Weiss Lake and most of the lake ranges between 20 and 40 feet deep, he said.

The area of the search is confined to the channel between the eastern and western parts of the Weiss Lake reservoir and points downstream toward the Alabama Power Co. power plant that links that end of the lake back to the Coosa River. The site where Shore disappeared is less than three miles upstream of the power plant.

Deaton said authorities believe Shore escaped the vehicle as it went under but never made it to land. Two women escaped the vehicle that plunged into Weiss Lake, the reservoir on the Coosa River created by an Alabama Power Co. dam.

The four who died have been identified as Robert Hardin; Cheryl Hobson; her daughter, Christy Hobson; and Dale Keener, officials said. The survivors are Kim Learned and Brittney Nicole Leslie, who also has been listed in some reports with the last name Hobson.

In the days immediately after the crash the women said Hardin might have purposely driven into the lake, but investigators so far have found no evidence to support that scenario, Deaton said.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the accident.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.