August 1, 2011
Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1207
At about 3:30 p.m. on July 30, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Dispatch received a report that a young woman had been swept over the 15-foot high waterfall at the Sinks on the Little River about 10 miles west of Gatlinburg, TN.
Witnesses reported that the woman had been wading across the river in knee-deep water just above the falls, when she lost her footing and was swept over the falls. At the base of the falls she became entrapped in a crevice that held her underwater in chest-deep water by the force of the water coming down from above.
Visitors formed a human chain and attempted to pull her free, but were unable to overcome the force of the water.
Rescue workers were able to free her body at about 6:15 p.m. using a rope and pulley system.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers coordinated the response. The recovery was carried out by responders from Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Blount County Fire Department and Rural metro Ambulance.
The identity of the victim was withheld until Sunday morning July 31 to ensure notification of kin. The victim was 17year-old Amber Rose Mirisola of Mt. Dora, FL.
Park officials say that the there are numerous signs posted at the Sinks advising visitors of strong currents and hidden hazards and advising caution in and around the water. This is the second drowning in a month at the Park which has been experiencing near-record warm temperatures all summer, prompting many visitors to recreate in the water.