FLORENCE, Ala. — Make no mistake, the Tennessee River around Wilson Dam may seem calm at times, but TVA knows that looks can be deceiving.
That’s why TVA Police opened an investigation, asking for the public’s help in identifying six people who were photographed sitting along a spillway gate on Sunday. TVA spokesperson Scott Fiedler said the outing was potentially life-threatening.
“Something that occurs 300 miles upstream may cause us to have to open up those gates, and if you’re there, we would have had six fatalities,” Fiedler said.
Fiedler said alarms are sounded before water is released but the group may not have had time to evacuate. “We want people to recognize the sounds, the horns, and the signs when we’re going to start spilling,” he said. “Remember, Wilson is an automatic system; we just press a button and they open up. Mother Nature and that water is unforgiving, and you will lose.”
Fiedler said the people in the photo have now been identified and TVA is meeting with them to help them understand the dangers of being so close to a spillway gate. As for the police investigation, the individuals will have to appear before a federal magistrate and could face up to one year in jail or pay a $6,000 fine for trespassing.