Body of Wetumpka man recovered from Tallapoosa River

Published 5:14pm Saturday, May 11, 2013


Tallassee Tribune


The dangerous currents in the area of the Tallapoosa River below Thurlow Dam in Tallassee claimed another drowning victim.

The body of 28-year-old Wetumpka resident John William Picken was recovered by emergency responders Saturday at 10:05 a.m., ending a search that began shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday.

“Shortly after 9 a.m. (Saturday), the DPS helicopter reported seeing what appeared to be a body floating in the water some 75 to 100 yards out in the river, directly in front of the (lower) boat landing,” said Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers. “Boat teams responded, and confirmed it was a body; it was removed from the water at 10:05, and identified as Mr. Picken.”

Rodgers said the body may have been wedged between rocks, and currents from a discharge at Thurlow Dam on Friday night could have dislodged it.

The tragic situation began when the Wetumpka resident was swept away by rapidly rising water Thursday afternoon near Tallassee’s lower boat landing behind AES on Alabama Highway 229 South.

Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers said his department received a call for help about 4 p.m.

Witnesses told emergency responders Picken and three others – two from Wetumpka and one from Montgomery – were fishing on the rocks in mid-river near the landing. When the water began to rise quickly following a discharge upriver at Thurlow Dam, three people were able to swim back to shore but Picken was carried downstream.

“We had the Tallassee and Friendship fire departments on the scene (Thursday evening),” said Rodgers. “They had two boats doing water patrol and two teams doing bank patrol.”

Boats from the State Game and Fish department were also part of the effort and the Department of Public Safety had a helicopter in the air.

After dark Thursday, local crews continued to patrol the shoreline and nearby woods throughout the night.

Dive teams from Montgomery County and Russell County arrived mid-morning Friday to assist in the search. Workers continued their efforts until nightfall.

The operation resumed Saturday at approximately 7:30 a.m. and ended with recovery of the man’s body.

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