TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The National Park Service identified the two people killed when severe storms ripped through the Great Smoky Mountains. Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan called the storm the worst since the Blizzard of '93.
“We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two of our visitors,” said Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.” Our thoughts are with their families and with those who were injured.”
According to park officials, Ralph Frazier was riding a motorcycle on Little River Road about a half mile east of the Townsend Wye when the 50 year-old from Buford, Ga., was struck on the head by a falling limb. The passenger on the bike was not hurt.
A Corryton woman was killed at a popular swimming hole off the Cooper Road Trail when a large tree fell on her and three others.
Rachael Burkhart, 41, was pronounced dead on the scene.
A seven year-old girl, who was swimming at the time was struck by the same tree. She was unconscious when she was pulled from the water and given CPR by bystanders. Her father sustained fractures to his vertebrae, multiple broken ribs, and a collapsed lung when the tree hit him. His wife was also hurt, but less seriously. They were all taken to UT Medical Center. Park officials said Burkhart was not related to the family.
Other injuries at the park last night included: a cardiac at the Cades Cove campground, one man who was struck by a tree at the Methodist Church on Cades Cove Loop Road and suffered a back injury, another man who hurt his eye when a tree branch smashed into his window.
Everyone else has been accounted for, Jordan said
Hundreds of trees are down along the roads between Metcalf Bottoms and Abrams Creek in the west end of the park. Parks officials said they've swept all the roads in storm-damaged parts of the park looking for stranded motorists and anyone needing medical help.
Anyone with reservations for the Cades Cove campground should seek other accommodations for the night, the park service said.
"We don't have a good handle on when we'll reopen because we've been in search and rescue mode," according to Jordan.
Other closures include:
Some campers did stay the night inside the park, but will be escorted out on Friday, according to rangers. They were able to transport many people out who were stranded on Cades Cove Road.
Thirty-eight people took refuge at a shelter the Red Cross set up at the Tuckaleechee United Methodist Church. Volunteers provided shelter guests with food, snacks, and liquids.