Kentucky hiker dies after fall in Smokies

A Kentucky hiker died April 10 after he fell while hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

At about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 10, Park dispatchers received a report from Blount County Emergency that a 73-year-old Kentucky man had suffered injuries due to a fall while hiking with his wife on the Schoolhouse Gap Trail about seven miles from the Park’s Townsend Entrance.

Rangers responded to Schoolhouse Gap Trail but were unable to locate the victim. At about 6:10 p.m. the victim’s wife called again to report that the incident had occurred while the couple was hiking on the Chestnut Top Trail which begins just inside the Park boundary near the Townsend entrance, approximately 5 miles from the location originally reported.

Rangers arrived at the scene and located the victim, Robert Lyons, 73, of Louisville, Ken. who was sitting by the side of the Park’s Townsend Entrance Road.

Lyons reported that he and his wife, Judith Lyons, had hiked just a few hundred yards up Chestnut Top Trail, intending to hike out at Schoolhouse Gap Trail when thunderstorms rolled in and they turned back toward their car. He stumbled off the trail and tumbled approximately 20 feet down a steep slope and suffered some possible back injuries. Lyons was able to continue down the slope on his own and eventually reached the road where he met Park Rangers. He was conscious at the scene but reported suffering back pain and agreed to be transported by ambulance.

Rangers called a Rural Metro ambulance which arrived at about 6:40 p.m. and transported Lyons to Townsend where a LifeStar helicopter took him to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

The Park was notified at approximately 11 p.m. that Lyons had died of apparent blunt trauma to the chest at 10:20 p.m. No autopsy is planned.

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