Newspaper article News Sentinel

New Book Tells of Tragedies, Heroics in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Newspaper article News Sentinel

New Book Tells of Tragedies, Heroics in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Article excerpt

A death in the Smokies can be brutally unfair.

On July 10, 1980, Roger Lynn McGlone, 32, and Jeff Powell, 19, were among hikers driven by a thunderstorm into a shelter at Double Springs Gap a few miles from Clingmans Dome. They were in separate groups hiking that day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Neither left the shelter alive.

An investigation determined that lightning had struck a nearby tree and the electric charge traveled into the shelter. The shelter at that time had a metal, chain-link fence across the front to keep out bears. The bunks also included a metal wiring. There were a handful of other hikers in the shelter at the time and they survived. McGlone and Powell had been lying down on the bunks when the lightning hit.

Such are the stories in a new book titled "Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park" by David Brill, who has spent decades writing about the Smokies.

Brill, an adjunct instructor at the University of Tennessee's School of Journalism, has been writing and working with the Great Smoky Mountains Association since 2006 and his devotion to the park goes back further than that.

"I have been writing about the park for 20 years now," Brill said. "I really got to know the staff and others involved."

He said GSMA officials Steve Kemp and Kent Cave first "floated the idea" of such a book.

"They had discovered that there were some compelling stories not only of tragedies but also of heroic rescues in the park," Brill said.

He said he spent two years working on the book.

"A big part of that was consumed by research," he said. "Before I really started to pick and choose the stories that would become the chapters I wanted to see the whole field of view."

His research became so thorough that the book includes a comprehensive list of all the fatalities there from 1931 to 2013.

"There have been 466 deaths in the park in that time. Auto accidents were the leading cause of death and the Spur (between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge) is the most dangerous place to drive in the entire park. …

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