June 14, 2013
Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1207
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers are involved in a rescue of a 53 year old male who had been struck by a falling tree during the storm event on Thursday, June 13. The man was hiking along low Gap Trail when the storm hit around 4:00 pm and sustained multiple injuries.
A Park Backcountry Ranger was patrolling the trails around Cosby and Big Creek this morning to check trail conditions and on hikers in the area when he discovered the injured hiker at approximately 11:30 am. He has remained with the patient and continues to relay medical and location information to the Park Incident Commander.
The Park began organizing a rescue operation immediately and dispatched a Park Medic to the site to further evaluate and stabilize the patient’s condition.
Due to the number of downed trees from the storm, the trails around the Cosby and Big Creek areas are impassable for the rescue team. The Park has ordered a Blackhawk helicopter from the state of North Carolina with winching capabilities, to extricate the patient.
In the event the helicopter is unable to perform the extrication operation, the Park has sent a saw team to clear the Low Gap Trail, and a litter team to carry him out.
UPDATE: June 14, 2013, 7:01 p.m.
An injured hiker was successfully airlifted from Low Gap Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6:45 pm on Friday, June 14. Nathan Lipsom, a 53 year old male from Cambridge, MA, sustained injuries from a falling tree while hiking the trail during a severe storm event on Thursday, June 13.
Lipsom was extricated from the trail by a Blackhawk helicopter coordinated through Haywood County and the State of North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He was then flown to the airport in Asheville, NC and transported by ground to Mission Hospital.
National park staff assisted the airlift operation on the ground and provided two Park Medics and an EMT for patient care. Damage to the trails around the Cosby and Big Creek areas prevented a ground team from reaching Lipsom for a carry out operation in a reasonable amount of time.
A National Weather Service crew has confirmed an EF-1 tornado in the Cosby area during the June 13 storm. A Park Backcountry Ranger was patrolling the trails around Cosby and Big Creek on the morning of June 14 to assess storm damage when he discovered Lipsom and initiated the rescue operation.