The Guntersville Dam in Alabama. / TVA Web Team Photo

This story was updated at 5:01 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, with more information.

The body of a Chattanooga lawyer, widely known for his involvement in youth and amateur baseball in the region, was recovered Monday from the Tennessee River in Alabama more than 100 miles downriver from Chattanooga at TVA's Guntersville Dam.

The body found was that of 66-year-old George E. Koontz, sheriff's office officials in Marshall County, Alabama, said in a news release late Tuesday. Marshall County authorities said Koontz matched the description of a man witnesses reportedly saw jumping from the pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge on Jan. 29. Koontz had been reported missing by family members that same day.

"It's believed that due to heavy rains the past few weeks and the fact flood gates have remained open along the Tennessee River, this enabled the body to travel from Chattanooga to Guntersville, a total of 19 days and 122 miles by way of the river," the news release from the Marshall County Sheriff's Office states. "There are two separate locks the body passed through along the route, the Nickajack Dam in Marion County [Tennessee] and the Guntersville Dam where the body was found."

For January, rainfall in the region was about an inch above normal but throughout February the region has gotten a little more than 9 inches of precipitation, about 6 inches above average for this time of year, according to National Weather Service preliminary data. Rainfall in the first couple of weeks in February had the Tennessee River about 6 to 7 feet above normal at times, TVA officials said last week.


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TVA spokesman Travis Brickey said via email Tuesday that flows in the river in late January were about at a normal wintertime rate of 40,000 to 60,000 cubic feet per second, but as more rain and runoff occurred during the first couple weeks of February, river flows escalated to about 100,000 cubic feet per second during the first week of February.

Since Feb. 6, flows in that section of river have been about 160,000 to over 200,000 cubic feet per second, which is about four times the normal amount of flow in the system, Brickey said.

Marshall County authorities late Tuesday told Huntsville news station WHNT Koontz's body — spotted around 3 p.m. CST Monday near Snow Point Road and recovered a couple of hours later — was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy.

Koontz was a partner in the Chattanooga law firm of Kennedy, Koontz & Klingler and had been active in amateur baseball in Tennessee and Georgia for more than 30 years, according to his biographical information on the firm's website.

Knoxville-born Koontz, who practiced law for 39 years as an attorney, founded the Chattanooga Cyclones Baseball Program in 1993, helping more than 320 baseball players obtain college scholarships. He also was the majority owner of the Real Sports Academy in Ooltewah, the site states.

Marshall County officials said agencies involved in the investigation also included the TVA police, the Guntersville Rescue Squad, Chattanooga Police Department and the Marshall County Coroner's Office.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at