Man rescued from submerged vehicle
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two people had to be extricated from wrecked vehicles following separate accidents Sunday on Little River Road inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Townsend Volunteer Fire Department and the National Park Service personnel rescued Martin Keller, 48, Knoxville, from a white Toyota Tundra pickup truck in Little River Sunday night.
The call came in at 11 p.m. from another visitor in the Park, said Park spokesman Bob Miller.
“That was the most challenging rescue we’ve participated in given the swiftness of the water, the temperature of the water and the rock bluff we were working off,” said Townsend Fire Chief Don Stallions.
The pickup went off the road and flipped, falling 20 feet down a bluff into 4 feet of water, he said. It was approximately 5 feet from the edge of the rock bluff.
The roof of the pickup was smashed in and three-quarters submerged in the water, Stallions said.
The accident occurred about three miles past the Townsend Y on Little River Road going toward Gatlinburg.
A firefighter and a Park ranger, who were members of their respective swift-water rescue teams, were able to get to the man using ropes, extricated him from the truck and put him on a stretcher. The ropes team them pulled the wounded man up the 20-foot embankment, Stallions said.
A landing zone was set up by firefighters at Sundown Resort and Lifestar flew the victim to University of Tennessee Medical Center where he was treated.
Little River Road was shut down for three hours Sunday night during the extrication,
The decision was made to leave the truck in the river until daylight. The road was again shut down for three hours — from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday — to allow Butler’s Wrecker Service to pull the truck out of the river.
Townsend had 12 firefighters and four trucks on the scene and Blount County Fire Department sent 11 firefighters. Also assisting were Park personnel and two members of Gatlinburg Fire Department.
The first wreck occurred at 4:45 p.m. Sunday about one mile from the Townsend Y on Little River Road.
A man pulled over to let traffic go by and accidentally rolled his vehicle down an embankment, Stallions said.
He was trapped inside the vehicle and had to be extricated by firefighters and Park personnel.
Rural/Metro Ambulance Service transported him to Parkwest Medical Center. Townsend Fire Department sent seven firefighters and three trucks to this scene.