Location, Weather Keeping Rescuers From Reaching Hiker Stranded Since Thursday
BY SARAH R. GREGORY AND MICHAEL S. RENEAU
As of mid-morning today, weather has continued to keep emergency crews from rescuing a hiker stranded since Thursday on a ledge above Margarette Falls.
A National Guard helicopter called in from Asheville, N.C., this morning to rescue the hiker was grounded at mid-morning when fog rolled in, officials said.
The hiker is believed to be uninjured, but has been trapped on the ledge in the area above the falls since at least 1:45 p.m. Thursday, when Greene County 911 received the initial 911 call.
Since he climbed up on Thursday under dry conditions, there has been rain in the area, and the rain has made it too hazardous for him to climb down or for rescuers to climb up to reach him.
Another hiker, believed to be the nephew of the man, fell approximately 20 feet in the same basic area and sustained a non-life-threatening head injury.
He was transported by private vehicle to a local hospital for treatment.
In addition to the Greeneville Emergency and Rescue Squad and Greene County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Bill Brown, responders from Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Washington County Rescue Services and the Knox County Sheriff's Office have assisted with rescue attempts.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME
Andrew Turner, a hobby photographer and one of two persons who notified 911 about the emergency situation, was at Margarette Falls at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday to take pictures of the falls.
"I heard this sound from the left, and there's this guy crawling out of the brush," Turner said this morning.
The young man had blood on his head, in his hair and dripping down his back.
Turner, who's trained in first aid, grabbed a bandana and helped the young man clean his wounds.
With Turner's cell phone, they called the young man's mother, then called 911. His mother also called 911.
About an hour and 40 minutes later, rescue squads reached the remote mountain accident scene, he said.
The young man injured had been hiking near Margarette Falls with his father and uncle.
He and his uncle had taken a route to the left of the falls to get to Cathedral Rock, according to Turner. The young man's father had taken an alternate route.
When the young man fell down the ledge, his uncle was stranded on top with nothing but his T-shirt, shorts, a ball cap, a lighter and a pack of cigarettes, Turner said.
The young man's father was able to climb down and meet up with Turner and the young man.
The initial rescue plan Thursday was to send a police helicopter from Knoxville to reach the stranded climber and lift him off the ledge and to safety.
Turner said the helicopter made three passes at about 4:45 p.m. Thursday before having to abort the rescue effort because of high winds.
The stranded hiker had managed to build a fire, Turner said, but Turner said he left at about 6 p.m. Thursday and was not sure of the man's condition after that.
"He was able to move and wave at the helicopter, but I don't know otherwise what condition he was in," Turner said.
Check greenevillesun.com for continuing coverage of rescue attempts.