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The type of dam involved in the June 1st death of a woman in Cocke County is a veritable “drowning machine,” according to UT Professor Emeritus Bruce Tschantz.

In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel Tschantz said that the design of low head dams has led to hundreds of deaths in the last half century, including 19 documented cases in Tennessee alone. 

A long-time figure of both the Tickle College of Engineering’s civil and environmental engineering department and the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, Tschantz has done decades of research on such dams, noting that the spill can be deceptive to boaters and swimmers. 

“It’s no secret that low-head dams are probably the most dangerous type of structure on the planet,” he told the paper. “Hundreds of people die on these things in small counties, small towns all over the country and all over the world.”

The full story can be read at