Fatality at Big South Fork on River

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: May 18, 2009
Contact: Jeannine McElveen, 423.569.2404 ext 232

On May 15 2009, Mr. Tony Evans, age 61 of Knoxville, Tennessee, died while canoeing at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.  Mr. Evans and three companions launched two open canoes at the Leatherwood Ford River access to begin a two day canoe trip on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.   Approximately two miles downstream the group missed their intended portage at the Angel Falls Rapid and were swept into the Class IV whitewater where both canoes overturned. 

All four men were washed through the rapid.  They established voice contact and verified that all four had emerged.  Two members of the group saw Mr. Evans swimming toward them approximately 100 yards away.  Mr. Evans suddenly appeared to experience difficulties.  They swam to Mr. Evans, who was unresponsive when they reached him.  The two men pulled Mr. Evans to the river bank and attempted to revive him.  They were unsuccessful.  Mr. Evans was not wearing a personal flotation device, (PFD) at the time of the incident.

One group member hiked approximately two miles to Leatherwood Ford where he used an emergency telephone to call 911 at 5:22 p.m.

National Park Service Rangers Tom Barnes and Howard Duncan responded, along with personnel from Scott County (Tennessee) EMS, and Scott County Rescue Squad.   The rescue team arrived on scene at approximately 6:34 p.m.   Rescue team personnel transported Mr. Evans up the river bank and carried him to the trail where an ATV transported him to an ambulance at Leatherwood Ford.

Mr. Evans was transferred to the emergency room of the Scott County Hospital in Oneida, Tennessee, where he was pronounced deceased. 

An autopsy was ordered by the Scott County Medical Examiner. The investigation is ongoing pending autopsy results.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

4564 Leatherwood Road
Oneida, TN 37841


(423) 569-9778

Contact Us