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A boater leaves the dock in Harrison Bay State Park in this file photo.

A Dayton, Tenn.,-based construction crew successfully raised its barge and boom truck off the bottom of Harrison Bay this week, after unexplained circumstances led to the boat sinking and dealing minor damage to park property.

Don Campbell, park manager at Harrison Bay State Park, said crews with Crystal Springs Builders had been working at the park earlier this summer, and had a barge still floating in Harrison Bay when somehow, something caused it to sink late last week.

And the barge had a boom truck strapped to it.

When the barge went down, it turned over on its side and remained in that position, with one tip sticking out of the water, until workers with Crystal Springs — which specializes in marine construction and raising sunken boats — was able to get the barge up.

The task was made more difficult because the company boom truck was attached to the barge, and because of torrential rain received here earlier this week.

By Wednesday, though, Crystal Springs workers had the barge — truck and all — off the riverbed.

Some gasoline spilled into the water, but it was treated with a detergent to break it down, and representatives from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Hamilton County hazardous material deemed there was no threat to the public or wildlife.

Campbell said it's common for recreational boats to sink at the park, and that the impact the sunken barge introduced was no greater than what's typical.

Tony Carter, owner of Crystal Springs Builders, said he couldn't be sure what exactly caused the barge to sink and didn't want to speculate. But he issued apologies on Thursday for the damage and inconvenience the incident presented.

Carter paid to repair the dock damage and broken utility lines at the park.

He has worked with the state parks for several years and called the sinking of his barge an unfortunate and abnormal accident.

Carter said turning the barge upright and re-floating it with the added weight of the truck presented a "distressed situation" for his workers and said in all his years in the business, he's never seen anything like it done.

"It's just a different thing to try to keep a barge re-floated while it's got a truck strapped to it," he said.

Carter said he had been using the barge out at Harrison Bay for six months with no prior problems. But when it went down, he jumped to rescue it.

"We did the best we knew how to do with the circumstances that were presented to us," he said. "I'm very remorseful that this happened."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

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