Day two of searching for missing man on South Holston Lake ends with no leads


Day two in the search for a missing man comes to a close with no solid leads.

Local rescue squads, along with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have been searching for 41-year-old James Matthew Ragan, who goes by Matt, since yesterday afternoon.

Officials say Matt set up a campground near the 421 bridge Thursday morning.

They think he went to go fishing, and a canoe was found flipped over upstream from the bridge on Saturday morning.

We're told it's all hands on deck to find Matt Ragan...

But, officials tell News 5 it isn't an easy search, as it's a large area with very deep water.

What was supposed to be a camping and fishing trip, has now turned into a search mission.

"The water is very deep out there. That's a challenge for us and the other rescuers. I think it's 136 feet deep in areas out there. It's clear and it's cold and it just makes searching for someone extremely difficult," TWRA Spokesman Matthew Cameron said. Cameron said Matt Ragan was dropped off at the public boat ramp by his girlfriend Thursday morning around 9:30. He tells us Ragan paddled upstream in his canoe and made camp. Ragan talked to his girlfriend around 11:30 that morning before he went fishing, and that's the last she heard from him. "Eventually a person that he knows came looking for him. Was able to find his campsite and it hadn't been disturbed," Cameron said. Then on Saturday, a canoe was found flipped over on the lake. "Had an anchor line down, was tangled in some fishing line, so we suspect that he's probably fallen overboard. Wasn't wearing a life jacket and now he's missing," he said. Cameron said it's likely Ragan has been missing since Thursday around noon. "He had left that campsite and it looks like he never made it back to it," Cameron said. Now, several rescue crews are working on land and in water. "We want to cover all our bases and all the area. It is some rough terrain there," Sullivan County Emergency Management Director Jim Bean said. Bean tells us they have several methods used to search.

"We've got underwater remote operating vehicles that are able to search under without putting a diver in the water. We've got sonar units and underwater cameras," Bean said. And while they have looked on land, officials said they're confident he is in the water, which has a temperature of about 45 degrees. "From here to the campsite is a pretty large search area. He could be anywhere in between so we're just hoping for the best," Cameron said.

News 5 has been told search efforts ended at 5 pm Sunday, and will resume Monday morning at 9.

We will continue to follow this story and provide updates when they become available.