Volunteer regional crews assisting in search for Matt Ragan on South Holston Lake


News 5's Jessica Griffith was at the lake Saturday, as the additional crews used new techniques on the water.

A regional call means a rescue crew is asking for help from across our region.

We're told about 16 crews were out today assisting, and we saw squads from places like Morristown, Greeneville and Abingdon.

Regional crews are volunteering their time to help in the search for outdoorsman Matt Ragan.

"It's very helpful to us. It's more man power it's more equipment to make things go a lot easier and hopefully a little faster," Sullivan County EMA Director Jim Bean said. This includes the Washington County, Virginia Life Saving Crew. "We gathered a group together to come on out and see what we could provide," Mike Mason said. Mason is the captain of that squad. He tells us it's rare to have a regional call out this big. "But it is good to see this many people come together," he said.

Seven days of searching have now passed, with no sign of Ragan. "You're dealing with deep water, cold water. It'll take some time to do some searching," Bean said.

Saturday is the first day volunteer crews are out here on the lake using what they're calling a dragging method in hopes of finding Matt Ragan. "They'll put the boats in a line and will drop those hooks over the side with rope and you just work them up and down across the bottom as you're going," Bean said. In addition to dragging, crews are still using sonar detection and underwater vehicles, like they have all week. "We hope we can find him if he's there. But we hope we can find him ok somewhere else," Mason said.

The Emergency Management director tells us the regional call will continue tomorrow.

After that, they'll meet with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to figure out the plan for the rest of the week.

He says Sunday could be the last day of a full operation.

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