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TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) -
It is still very hard
for Susan Picken to accept the fact her oldest son John is gone.
"He smiled a lot
and loved people," said Picken.
John Picken and three
others including a brother were fishing from the rocks of the Tallapoosa River
in Tallassee when the water quickly rose, clear evidence Alabama Power had
opened its dam in Tallassee a quarter of a mile away upstream. This is a regular
occurance for the power company. The 27-year old Picken somehow lost his
footing and slipped. The others survived.
For Susan Picken the
issue is whether the warning signal even sounded before the dam opened and if
it did.. why didn't the boys hear it?
"The purpose of the
warning is to sound the warning before the water is supposed to rise. Three
people who survived can testify they didn't hear it," said Picken.
John Picken drowned on
May 9th and on that day the water rose very quickly and it was unforgiving.
Two months after Mr.
Picken drowned the Tallapoosa River is a different story. It's full today much
of it due to the recent rains and the currents are swift.
"Both of my sons
are good swimmers and certified divers," said Picken.
Susan Picken says she
tried to get her questions answered but she claims no one from the power
"I will attempt
again," said Picken.
In an email statement to
WSFA 12 News today Alabama Power said: 'We operate our dams
under safety plans filed with regulators that do include sirens and signage
near our dams.'
There is, in fact, a
huge sign near the boat ramp on the river, not far from where the fishermen
traveled to get to the rocks. The sign in effect warns people of 'rapidly
rising waters and to use life vests.'
Alabama Power confirms
it did receive an email from Picken and has 'every intention of getting back
The fishermen were not
wearing life vests but Picken says no one does while fishing from the rocks.
Still, what troubles
John Picken's mom the most is the fact the survivors say they 'never heard the
siren or any kind of warning signal.'
Susan Picken still
has questions, searching for answers to help her find closure.