Tubers rescued from Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
By Wes Wade | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rescuers were called to Great Smoky Mountains National Park twice Friday to help tubers in the Little River.
The first incident occurred just near the Y Friday afternoon when a 63-year-old tuber from Orland Park, Ill., was found face down in the water by someone taking a kayak down the river, said Park spokeswoman Molly Schroer.
Townsend police and swifter water technicians and EMTs from the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department responded at around 2:45 p.m. to stabilize the victim.
Townsend Fire Chief Don Stallions said the victim, Joseph Florek, was apparently found on the bank, but was still in the water and was barely responsive.
Florek, who had been tubing with his family, was taken via Rural/Metro Ambulance to a nearby Lifestar helicopter and then taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center. Hospital staff had no patient information on Florek Friday evening.
Rescuers were called to the Y at around 7:30 p.m. on an initial call of a canoeist in distress.
Park officials said it turned out that a young man from Rhode Island was tubing with family when he hit some rapids and was thrown from his tube. He then held onto a rock for as long as he could before family members were able to pull him to land.
The man, whose identity was not immediately known, was suffering from exhaustion and was taken via Rural/Metro Ambulance to Blount Memorial Hospital.
Three trucks and 12 firefighters from the Townsend Fire Department responded and were in the middle of water training. Stallions said they would likely be back to the same spot where the Rhode Island man and his family were tubing in the morning for more training.
He said that the water is a little higher than normal and that visitors should exercise caution.
“This time of year is when we see these water rescues,” Stallions said. “The water right now is above-average flow, which doesn’t mean it will be dangerous, but it can be dangerous ... so this is a time where people need to be cautious with the water.”