COCKE COUNTY—First Responders recovered a body from the French Broad River Wednesday morning near the Fred M. Valentine Bridge off Highway 321.
The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office did not identify the individual, but said it is believed to be the second of two missing men involved in a crash that occurred on January 22.
The Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from multiple volunteer organizations, the fire departments and Emergency Management Agency to assist in the recovery.
The Newport Rescue Squad removed the body from the water and transported the deceased to the Knoxville Forensic Center for an autopsy.
The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division is handling the investigation and is awaiting positive identification of the body.
“We will release the name of the deceased once all family members have been notified,” said CCSO Chief Deputy C.J. Ball.
“We want to send our thoughts and prayers out to the family of the deceased. We also want to thank each volunteer department, full time first responders, family members of the missing and rescue teams that came together to search over the past couple of months. The EMA department has assisted our departments and organized several searches in order to locate the missing persons and we cannot thank them enough for their work.”
On January 22, Deputy Brock Hannah was en route with Lt. Max Laughter to 312 Wiley Town Road to serve felony warrants on Steven Floyd Hance.
While on the road deputies located Hance an attempted to initiate a traffic stop.
The vehicle, in which Hance was a passenger, went around a deputies cruiser at a high rate of speed and turned onto East Highway 25/70. The car sped towards Del Rio with deputies in pursuit.
Reports state that the vehicle crossed the center line into on coming traffic multiple times and hit speeds of 100 mph.
The vehicle turned around at the State Line Grill heading west on 25/70. Capt. David Robinson was able to deploy stop strips at the Wolf Creek Bridge, which flattened the right front tire of the vehicle.
The vehicle continued traveling before it left the roadway at Bluff Road and crashed into the river.
Reports state that the driver and front passenger escaped the vehicle and swam down-river.
The back seat passenger came to shore. She was identified as Alyson Hinson. Hinson was questioned and advised that Bobby Shelton was the driver of the vehicle and Steven Hance was the front passenger.
Hance had fled from deputies the day prior in another pursuit, which led to the warrants for his arrest.
Deputies received initial reports saying the two men exited the water down-river and were picked up by a vehicle. They were also told the two men were seen a day after the pursuit.
Crew performed multiple searches of the crash area and river banks looking for the men. Separate searches were conducted on the river, and on February 4, a body was recovered near the rivers edge.
The body was sent for an autopsy and has yet to be identified by the Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Ball said the CCSO will release more details as they become available.
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