Emergency crews search Watauga River for child reported missing

Zach Vance • Updated Feb 14, 2019 at 10:42 PM

WATAUGA — Dozens of first responders spent Thursday evening searching the Watauga River for a young girl, who was reportedly seen struggling in the water near Lovers Lane in Elizabethton. 

A man called 911 around 6 p.m. claiming he saw the girl in the water screaming, but he eventually lost sight of her, Watauga Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Colbaugh said.

The girl was described as 3 to 4 years old with blonde hair. She was also reportedly seen in the water with a blue backpack.

By 8 p.m., Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said no one had reported a missing child, but emergency crews would continue to search the river bank throughout the night. He said the man who called 911 was at the sheriff’s office. 

Wings Air Rescue had one helicopter flying overhead, and two or three boats were also searching a roughly three-mile stretch of the river around Pleasant Beach Baptist Church. 

Lunceford also warned the public to stay away from the search site, as one person trying to help apparently fell into the river and had to be rescued. 

This is a developing story. Keep checking back to www.JohnsonCityPress.com for more information.