Fatal incidents reported in park

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 05:36 PM

NATIONAL PARK — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported two different incidents involving fatalities within about hours of each other this week — a car accident that happened Tuesday night and left killed one person, and a hiker on the Appalachian Trail who was found dead Wednesday afternoon.

In the wreck, a two-vehicle collision on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441)  left one person dead, national park officials said Tuesday nigh.

Rangers reported that a southbound Chrysler SUV collided with a northbound National Park Service pickup truck just north of Collins Creek picnic area in North Carolina. The accident happened around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The driver of the SUV,  34-year-old Tracy Anderson of Morrice, Mich., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both the driver of the park vehicle and his passenger were transported to the local hospital for assessment.

North Carolina Highway Patrol is leading the accident investigation at the request of the park.

According to Chief Ranger Clay Jordan, “Normally, we complete the investigation of motor vehicle collisions within the park, but because two of our NPS employees were involved in the accident, we have asked the North Carolina Highway Patrol to lead this investigation.”

Park officials announced Wednesday afternoon that they had found the body of a missing hiker at the Tricorner Knob Shelter on the Appalachian Trail.

They did not release the identity because the remains have not been positively identified by family members, but officials said the park was notified that a 50-year-old male hiker had left Newfound Gap Saturday and planned to hike 30 miles along the Appalachian Trail to Davenport Gap in North Carolina. Family members contacted the park when he failed to turn up as scheduled Monday, and Rangers started searching the area at that time.

They are investigating the incident with the assistance of the Swain County Medical Examiner's Office.  The cause of death does not appear to be suspicious, officials said.