Injured Smokies Hiker Praises Tenn. Rescuers
A Virginia man rescued from Great Smoky Mountain National Park after sustaining an ankle injury said he was impressed by the professionalism that Park rangers and first responders showed during Saturday’s rescue.
Tim Cornette, a 30-year-old Chesapeake, Va., resident, said he was visiting family in Alcoa when he, his father and uncle decided to go hiking in the mountains. Cornette said the trail system they were attempting to navigate had been badly damaged as a result of storm activity during the summer. The group eventually decided to follow a slow-moving shallow creek bed for most of the hike.
During the afternoon hike, Cornette slipped on a moss- and leaf-covered rock, twisted his ankle and fell into the damp, shallow creek, he said.
“I immediately knew something was bad wrong with my leg,” he recounted in an email about the experience. He said he was unable to put any weight on the ankle and could not continue the hike.
His uncle took note of their GPS coordinates and hiked about two miles out of the mountains and drove several more miles until he had could get cell phone service and notify authorities.
Cornette said his father, Mike Cornette, built a fire and the two fully expected they would spend the night in the mountains.
“About 5:30 p.m. we heard a holler from down the gully,” Cornette said, and at that moment found that Park Service rangers and Blount County Rescue Squad members had come to the rescue. “I can’t say enough praise or express enough gratitude for their professionalism and expertise. Simply said, they were awesome in all sense of the word.”
Used a boat
He said the responders assessed the situation and wrapped his ankle before Cornette tried to hike out with the help of crutches. Blount County Rescue Squad Assistant Chief Ed Wolff said once they determined Cornette wouldn’t be able to hike out, they decided to pick him up in a boat.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the boat had to travel from Calderwood Lake up to Abram’s Creek before reaching Panther Creek, which was in the area of Cornette’s injury. Rescuers then carried Cornette, who was injured between Parsons Branch Road and the Foothills Parkway, about a half-mile to the boat, she said.
Wolff said one of the rescue squad’s vehicles picked up Cornette from the boat and then took him to U.S. 129 to meet the ambulance. Cornette was then taken via Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital.
“I received stupendous treatment,” Cornette said. “I was in and out in less than a couple hours. They informed me that I fractured both my ankle and fibula.”
“I sincerely appreciate the work of all those involved,” he said in an email. “This microcosm of the world showed me that your area has some serious professionals working there, ya’ll are lucky to have them. I was truly blessed with their care.”
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