Man dies while trying to save woman high on meth from pond in McMinn County

Man dies while trying to save woman high on meth from pond in McMinn County

February 17th, 2019 by Mark Pace in Breaking News

A man died Sunday morning in McMinn County, Tennessee, while trying to save a woman who was reportedly high on methamphetamine and had wandered into a pond, according to McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy.

Family members identified the man as Dale Sanford, 60.

He was the type of man "who cared about his family and would help anyone," his niece Tashie Baxter said. That's why the woman, who was not related, was staying at the home, the niece added. 

McMinn County deputies, McMinn and West Polk volunteer fire and rescue departments, and EMS responded to the scene on County Road 788. The location is southwest of Etowah near the Delano community and the Polk County line.

Two boats were deployed and recovered the woman. She was treated at a local hospital but was reportedly unharmed, according to West Polk Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

Responding deputies believe she wandered away from the home early in the morning and walked into the pond while under the influence of methamphetamines, according to a post from the sheriff. The pond is not usually very deep but had risen during recent heavy rain, the niece said. Sanford tried to save her but died in the process. Family members said they were told he drowned.

The incident remains under investigation.

Sanford spent a lot of time outdoors, in the woods, his niece said. He worked in the timber industry for much of his life. He was living at a house on his brother's property, where the incident occurred, to help with some work there, according to his niece.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.