[Hpn] Letter to vice mayor claiming the location of homeless woman's body was known within hours of her drowning; The Tennessean; 8/26/2006

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@gmail.com
Sat, 26 Aug 2006 23:31:48 -0400

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Saturday, August 26, 2006
The Tennessean
[Nashville, Tennessee]
Letter to vice mayor claiming the location of homeless woman's body
was known within hours of her drowning

[quotes]This is the text of a letter from Nikki Ivey to Vice Mayor
Howard Gentry. The last sentence of the original letter, in which Ms.
Ivey gave the vice mayor her cell phone number, was deleted to protect
her privacy.[closed quotes]

Good afternoon Vice Mayor Gentry,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Nikki Ivey and for the
past four years I have been running the Office of Emergency
Management's Volunteer K9 Search & Rescue Unit. I established the unit
for OEM four years ago and have since been recruiting and training all
of OEM's volunteer K9's and handlers.

I would like to discuss with you the recent recovery operation of Tara
Cole. I was called in on Friday, August 11th. I arrived in the
afternoon and began my search downstream by the bridge. We worked
upstream towards the point last seen. In moving water, dogs are unable
to pinpoint the exact location of a drowning victim. With the current
and wind conditions, all you can do is locate a general area for the
Sonar team to go in to confirm and pinpoint allowing the divers for a
speedy recovery. During this particular search, Tbaa, my Rottweiler
who has been working in SAR for five years, alerted on a couple of
areas that led me to believe that our subject was in between the end
of the barge, the furthest part of the barge downstream, and
approximately 75 yards downstream. I informed my supervisor, Scott
Harris, that I believed that the body was in between this area. Our
dive team was on staff and ready for recovery, but was denied their
request to dive.

I was called in on Weds. August 16th for another search to determine
if the body had moved. This was after four days of bank searches
downstream. After a thorough search using Tbaa, I informed my
supervisor, Scott Harris, that the body was indeed still under the
barge. I did not believe that it was possible that she was downstream
at all. I was 95% certain that the body was still under the barge
based on experience I've had working the Cumberland and on working
K9's in rescue and recovery.

When I returned from vacation, I was excited to hear that the body was
finally recovered. When I inquired as to where the body was located, I
was informed that she was indeed under the barge. As with the last
three water recovery's, my dog, Tbaa, located the drowning victim.

What I would like to discuss with you is the way this call was handled
from the beginning to the end. Tara Cole should have been recovered
within 15 hours of her reported drowning. This would have allowed the
family, at the very least, an open casket service. This recovery
should have never taken 12 days. My supervisor disregarded information
from his own organization bringing in other resources to recover this
body. This not only wasted valuable resources, not to include
volunteers that took off work to do the daily bank searches, but also
de faced his organization's resources to other groups.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am not in this "job" for the glory.
I care nothing about getting my name in the paper or being awarded for
my efforts. I do this for the love of working with dogs and for
bringing closure to family members. There is nothing better than
bringing someone's grandmother home safely or bringing closure to a
family who has lost a loved one. I only bring this to your attention
because of the wasted resources and for the lack of respect that was
shown within an organization that represents our Mayor and our

I am sure that you have seen the article in today's paper stating that
the dogs were brought in from Memphis to locate our subject. Our own
supervisor, Scott Harris, was quoted in saying that officials were
unsure if the body was under the barge until Monday, when in fact, he
was made aware of it on the Friday she drowned and on Weds., Aug.

I fear that any member of this community that saw our team working
this recovery and then read in the paper that a Memphis team, along
with Sumner County divers, were brought in to locate and recovery the
body is only seeing that their Emergency Management team is not doing
the job it needs to do. They see it as a waste of tax payers money, in
turn, we are losing the respect of our community and of our fellow
emergency peers.

I do hope that we can discuss this matter further. I am all for doing
what is necessary for establishing OEM as a resource that can be
depended on in any situation. I love representing this organization
and hope to continue representing OEM, not only in Davidson County,
but as an out source for other counties as well.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do. I look forward to
hearing from you.

Thank you!
Sgt. Nikki Ivey
Metro Nashville K9 Search & Rescue

Trust Your Dog, Yourself, Your Leader


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