An unoccupied boat taking on water in Barren River prompted a call to the Bowling Green Fire Department and a water rescue mission that was aborted when officials determined the boat was likely a runaway craft.

BGFD spokeswoman Marlee Boenig said firefighters responded at 12:41 p.m. Wednesday to a report of the boat on the river near the River Street bridge.

A red life vest was seen floating in the water near the boat, leading officials to treat the incident initially as a possible water rescue.

Search and rescue boats were deployed, and the Bowling Green Police Department sent a drone to observe the river from overhead.

Witnesses who were questioned had not seen anyone around the boat, and Boenig said the recovered boat had an attached line with a branch on it, suggesting the boat had possibly broken free from a tree near where it was found.

“The evidence made it appear that this was a runaway boat,” Boenig said. “No one had witnessed the boat with anyone in it.”

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