Storm Leaves Two Dead in Park

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Date: July 6, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1203

Two people were killed in the wake of a severe thunderstorm that hit the west end of Great Smokies National Park yesterday evening. Ralph Frazier of Buford, Georgia was riding his motorcycle near the Townsend Wye when he was struck on the head by a falling limb. Mr. Frazier died at the scene. Rachael Burkhart, a resident of Corryton, Tennessee also died on scene when she was struck by a falling tree in the Abrams Creek area of the park.

Several other visitors sustained injuries as a result of the storm. A 7 year-old girl, who was swimming in Abrams Creek, was seriously injured by the same tree that killed Ms. Burkhart. The girl was unconscious and not breathing when she was pulled from the water. She was resuscitated on scene by other visitors who administered CPR and was taken by helicopter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. The girl's father and mother also sustained injuries from the tree fall and were transported to the same hospital.   Two other visitors sustained eye and back injuries. A third visitor experienced cardiac issues.

"We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two of our visitors," said Superintendent Dale Ditmanson." Our thoughts are with their families and with those who were injured."

Although National Park Service crews are making good progress in clearing storm-damaged areas, hundreds of trees remain down in the west end of the park from Metcalf Bottoms to Abrams Creek. No other damage or injuries have been reported from any other areas of the park.

Although power has been restored to the Cades Cove area, Cades Cove facilities, as well as the Abrams Creek Campground remain closed. Several roads also remain closed. For the latest information regarding road closures call 865-436-1200.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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