Officials: Bureaucracy meant no warning system in park death

Posted at 8:09 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 20:09:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee officials say bureaucratic issues were behind the lack of a warning system at Cummins Falls State Park, where fast-moving water killed a 2-year-old earlier this month.

Parks and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson told lawmakers Wednesday that after 2017 flooding, a warning system was identified, funded and requested by state parks and Tennessee Tech University, which was familiar with the equipment.

Bryson said state procurement decided there was no justification for a sole-source contract, didn’t allow bidding and identified another possible supplier. He said Tennessee Tech’s contact said it would ask colleagues about the supplier but never responded to procurement, which didn’t follow up.

The falls and gorge are closed amid rainfall studies and other changes. Officials say they have loaned warning equipment until permanent equipment arrives in 30 to 45 days.