Second child dies in electrocution incident; Morristown church mourns tragedy

9:41 PM, Jul 5, 2012   |    comments
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  • Nate Lynam as Julius Caesar and Noah Winstead as Tim Tebow. Picture from Joel Young, First Baptist Church Morristown.

The Grainger County Sheriff has announced a second boy involved in an electrical accident at a marina at Cherokee Lake has died.

Sheriff Scott Layel said 11-year-old Nate Lynam was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. Thursday at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

Lynam's family has released the following statement:

"The family of Nate Lynam is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, prayers, and support from family, friends, and the community.

It is the family's wish that the tragedy that claimed his life not be what defines it. Nate was a loving son, a loyal brother, and a kind and respectful young man.

If there is anything newsworthy in this tragedy it is this: Nate and his friend, Noah, loved Jesus and trusted in Him. The family finds great comfort in knowing that they will be reunited one day in Heaven."

The 11-year-old Lynam was resuscitated by emergency responders Wednesday and was placed on life support at East Tennessee Children's Hospital until his death.

Lynam is the second fatality from the electrical accident that happened at around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at the German Creek Marina on Cherokee Lake in Bean Station.  10-year-old Noah Winstead of Morristown died Wednesday. 

Winstead and Lynam were two of nine people hurt by the electrical current that law enforcement believes originated from a boat in the marina.

Officials said the two boys were swimming between two houseboats when the electrocution occurred. Bystanders were also shocked when they tried to pull the boys from the water.

Church rallies for "best friends"

Noah Winstead, the 10-year-old who was electrocuted, is said by members of the First Baptist Church in Morristown to be best friends with 11-year-old Lynam.  Both boys attend Cornerstone Academy in Morristown and both of the boys' families are members of the First Baptist Church.

"These kids, they're boys. They are lively boys and a joy to be around," said First Baptist Church deacon Chad Seals.  "You'll see them running through the halls of church and back and forth to vacation bible school.  Their families are a big part of our church and they are so full of life."

Noah Winstead's contagious personality filled the airwaves of WBIR a few months ago.  Noah and his sister Hailey Reah Winstead appeared on Live at Five at Four on December 23, 2011, with their mother Jessica.  The family discussed a trip to New York City that included a surprise makeover for Jessica Winstead on the Today Show.

Now the First Baptist Church in Morristown attempts to support the families whose sons lifted the congregation's spirits. Thursday the church opened its doors for several hours for members to come together and pray for those involved in the "tragedy at Cherokee Lake."

"The first thing we can do is obviously pray. Wherever we are we can always pray for the family," said Seals.  "We'll start to really rally around those folks and love on them the best we can. Our hearts just go out to them."

The First Baptist Church has set up the Fund for Our Two Families to provide financial support for the victims' relatives.  Donations may be sent to the First Baptist Church; P.O. Box 1899; Morristown, TN 37816.  The church finance director said they are in the process of establishing a method to donate to the fund online via the church website.

Multiple Victims

Matt Cameron with TWRA said a total of nine people were hurt by the electrical current.  That number includes a total of four children and five adults.  Four of the injured adults were the parents and grandparents of Nate Lynam.

Grandparents Michael Voccola, 58, and Denise Voccola, 55, were injured when they jumped in and tried to rescue the children from the water. Paramedics took Michael Voccola to Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown, where he spent the night. Denise Voccola was treated for her injuries and released.

Parents Travis Lynam, 37, and Kelly Lynam, 35, were also injured while trying to pull the two boys from the water.  Kelly Lynam is the Voccolas' daughter.  The Lynams were also treated and released.

"At first, everybody thought maybe they were being stung or snake-bitten and everyone began to jump in to attempt to save them," said Layel.  "When they hit the water, of course, they became [victims of electric shock] as well and paralyzed for some period of time.  So many people coming to the rescue, jumping in, risking their lives, not knowing what they're getting into; that's just pure heroism.  That's what true heroes are made of."

Paul Worley, a family friend and visitor from California, said he was temporarily paralyzed as he was trying to rescue one of the victims Wednesday. Worley also spent the night at Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown.

An 8-year-old girl was swimming with the boys. She was injured and taken to East Tennessee Children's Hospital. A 12-year-old boy was also injured trying to help the children from the water. They are siblings of the two boys who were electrocuted in the water.  The 12-year old boy was treated at the scene for injuries.

Cameron said Noah Winstead's father was also at the lake when the accident occurred. He was on a different boat and out on the lake when he heard about the accident.

Boat generator possible electrical source

Sheriff Layel said Thursday that the current in the water stopped when the houseboat's breaker was turned off.  Layel said he found frayed wires under the stairs near the hull of the boat.

Thursday afternoon, inspectors from the state fire marshal's office were on the scene.  After speaking with TWRA officials, they have agreed to hold off on the investigation until a marine surveyor arrives on Friday.

Cameron said that surveyor is a private contractor who helped with the investigation into a similar accident in 2010 in Blount County.  

Cameron indicated the surveyor's credentials also include service as a teacher for the American Boating and Yacht Authority and the International Marine Certificate Institute.  The surveyor is also an inspector for the National Safe Boating Council.

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