Body found in Nolin after two-day search

By Brittany Wise -

The body of a Louisville man was recovered from Nolin Lake on Monday morning, August 10.

59-year-old Joe Hardman was pronounced dead after after his body was recovered by divers, following a two-day search of the area.

Hardman’s wife contact E-911 Dispatch at just after 5 p.m. on Sunday, indicating that her family feared her husband had drowned in the Wax area near the Marks Lane boat dock.

Wax and Leitchfield Fire Departments responded, along with Grayson County Emergency Management, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Corps of Engineers, and Grayson County Sheriff’s Department.

First responders found Hardman’s pontoon boat idling near the dock, and according to Emergency Management Director Ernie Perkins, they were told that Hardman had dropped off family members at a nearby dock and had gone back out alone on the boat the last time anyone had seen him alive.

The pontoon boat’s cover was found floating in the lake near the boat.

A search for Hardman quickly ensued, with three divers searching below the water’s surface, and additional teams conducting a sonar search by boat.

“We had three of our best divers, Dave Colston, Kevin Pharris and Steve Stapleton in the water for about three hours late Sunday afternoon and into the night, with additional help from diver David Strader.”

Perkins said the search was focused primarily on the water because of “the way the scenario happened and the information we had at the time.”

With Hardman still missing, divers were called out of the water at around 8:30 p.m. for safety reasons, though the sonar search continued later into the evening.

Early Monday morning, the teams reconvened at the location. Perkins said that the sonar search began first, with several locations of interest being marked.

Colston, Pharris and Stapleton were then sent back into the water, eventually retrieving Hardman’s body from one of those sonar-indicated locations at around 9:30 a.m.

“He was by himself when the incident happened,” Perkins said, “so it makes it a lot more difficult. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack because you don’t know exactly where something may have happened.”

Perkins said that the incident is being considered an accident at this time, and little is known about what exactly led to Hardman’s death.

By Brittany Wise

Reach Brittany Wise at 270-259-9622 ext. 2014.

Reach Brittany Wise at 270-259-9622 ext. 2014.

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