Tennessee Deputy Missing, Patrol Vehicle Pulled from River

Officials say they used technology to track the deputy’s last cellphone ping near a dead-end road that leads straight into the Hiwassee (Tennessee) River.

Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for a Meigs County, Tennessee, deputy after his patrol vehicle was found in the Hiwassee River Thursday afternoon.

The Chattanoogan reports that the body of a female arrestee was found in the vehicle.

Officials say they used technology to track the deputy’s last cellphone ping near a dead-end road that leads straight into the Hiwassee (Tennessee) River, WBIR reports.

On Wednesday night, Meigs County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert "R.J." Leonard was at home when he took a call, District Attorney Russell Johnson said during a Thursday morning press conference.

"He took a call that there was a passerby on the Highway 60 bridge, near the Birchwood community, that saw—I think we've heard two different stories, maybe two different calls—either a man jumping in and out of traffic or a man and a woman on the bridge that seemed to be fighting," Johnson said. 

Leonard responded to the call and arrived at the scene around 9:48 p.m. Nine minutes later, he radioed that he was taking a person to the county jail, according to Johnson. 

Around 12 minutes later, in a radio communication, dispatchers reported that they heard something they couldn't understand. Officials used some "analytics" to try and understand what was being said and they believe Leonard was saying "water," according to Johnson. 

Authorities said it was the first arrest for Deputy Leonard, who moved here from out of town and was not familiar with the roads, the Chattanoogan says.

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