UPDATED STORY: Canadian man who was trapped, rescued at Sinks, dies
The Canadian canoeist who was pulled Monday afternoon from the Sinks area of Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park later died at Blount Memorial Hospital.
Hospital spokesman Josh West confirmed that Steve Senior, Bridgenorth, Ontario, died 11:22 p.m. Monday.
Senior was part of a group of whitewater enthusiasts taking part in “Ain’t Louie Fest” in Lenoir City.
Park dispatch received an emergency call through Blount County E911 at 12:41 p.m. to report that the 65-year-old Senior was trapped underwater at the Sinks after a canoe accident, said spokeswoman Melissa Coburn.
According to the Park Service, Senior was visiting the area to attend the “Ain’t Louie Fest,” which includes a series of river trips loosely organized by a group of whitewater enthusiasts. Senior became trapped after his canoe capsized and he was swept downstream. Many members of the group are well-trained in swift water rescue and immediately began rescue operations.
Just as emergency responders arrived at the scene, the group pulled Senior out of the water and began CPR.
National Park Service rangers, along with emergency personnel from Blount County and Townsend, took the victim by litter from the riverbank to a Rural Metro ambulance. Senior had reportedly been underwater for about 30 minutes and was unresponsive when he was rescued, but later had spontaneous heartbeats and respiration. He was taken by ambulance to Blount Memorial Hospital where he later died.
The Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Blount County Swift Water Rescue, Townsend Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Department, and Blount County Fire also responded to the incident. Little River Road was closed for over an hour to allow for emergency traffic.
“It was a large group of whitewater canoeists,” said Townsend fire chief Don Stallions. “They have a strong skill set. They were in the middle of rescuing him when we got there. Not five minutes later, they got him freed and up out of the water.”