When New Year’s Eve began Monday, a local family and the community as a whole, had no indication how their world would turn upside down.
But here, three days later and hundreds of volunteer hours later — Monroe County reels from the tragedy which occurred on Lyons Road.
At 6:57 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, 20-year-old Leah Carter made a call to 9-1-1, then to her Mother, to tell them her car had been swept from the low bridge into the East Fork Creek.
Immediately emergency personnel dispatched to the area and workers spread along the creek banks looking for the white Saturn driven by Carter, according to Chief Deputy Lucas Geralds, who is investigating the incident.
Throughout the night, multiple law enforcement agencies and emergency personnel searched the creek and nearby areas on foot, all-terrain vehicles, rescue boats and even helicopters.
The flooding which was an estimated 15-18’ above normal flow, began to subside during the night. Although the decision was made for the search team to go home and rest for a few hours — many members decided they would work through the night, Geralds added.
Just before daybreak with the water levels receding, they were able to find what they believed to be Carter’s car around 500 yards below the bridge that her car had flowed over.
The creek bottom on the farm of Scott Davis off Grinestaff Road filled with emergency personnel as large equipment was brought in and slowly the car was removed from the water.
Carter’s body was not found in the vehicle.
The group moved back to the headquarters at Gamaliel Fire Hall and joined with several other volunteers to form teams which scoured the search area throughout the day.
At one time over 100 volunteers were on scene at the same time with approximately 300 working during the day, according to Gamaliel Fire Chief Bo Wesley Simpson, who oversaw search efforts.
However, as night fell on the second night, searchers had still not located Carter.
As K-9 units had arrived earlier in the day, they requested that all searchers clear the area to allow the dogs to work more effectively.
At press time, search efforts had resumed throughout the area.
In addition to Gamaliel Fire Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, other departments which had assisted in the search efforts at press time included: Monroe County Fire and Rescue, Mudlick Fire Department, Fountain Run Fire Department, Flippin Fire Department, Summer Shade Fire Department, Taylor County dive team, Shelbyville dive team, Russell County Rescue, Red Boiling Springs (Tenn.) Fire Department, Plano Fire Department, Barren County dive team, Monroe County Emergency Management, Regional Emergency management, Marrowbone Fire Department, Cumberland County Fire Department, Smith County (Tenn.) Fire Department, Albany Fire Department, Kentucky State Police, Tompkinsville Police Department, Monroe County constables, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, Monroe County Coroner’s Office, Monroe County Ambulance Service, and many others who worked on scene without registering.