Hikers airlifted from Park

Jan 03, 2014


The North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) airlifted the three stranded South Carolina hikers who spent a bitterly cold and wet night on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The three were taken to Asheville’s Mission Hospital early this afternoon.  Responding rangers had stabilized the men in the field with dry clothing, sleeping bags, and shelter.  They were treated for hypothermia and possible frostbite.  All three were very weak and could not walk.

Shawn Hood, Steven White, and Jonathan Dobbins, ages 21 to 32, from Gaffney, South Carolina, had started out from Fontana Dam on January 2 for a ten-day backpacking trip. They used cell phones to report being cold and wet and needing rescue later that night. The men said they were unable to walk and had no shelter.

The men were ill-equipped for the single digit temperatures and 35 mile-per-hour winds that created chills near 20 degrees below zero according the National Weather Service.  Blowing snow created drifts up to two feet.  The men were reported wearing mostly cotton clothing, which provides little or no warmth when wet.

“Winter hiking in the Smokies can be very dangerous without taking the proper precautions,” said Chief Ranger Clay Jordan.  “The park is grateful for the exemplary work of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team in bringing this operation to a successful conclusion,” Jordan said.

Comments (4)
Posted by: The Animal Hospital of Waynesville | Jan 05, 2014 09:53

These hikers were darn lucky.  It is hard for me to fathom being so ill-prepared for a backpacking trip in the winter.  Their lack of forethought cost many people time, effort, money, and personal risk.  They are fortunate to have had their cell phones and enough signal to get through to cool, competent heads that got them out of danger.  Thank goodness there was not a disastrous ending to this story.

Posted by: Joseph Edwards | Jan 06, 2014 09:24

It is hard for me to understand why anyone would do this without knowing basic survival skills.  The mountains offer countless ways of keeping one warm, safe and well nourished.  I suspect they will either go to the library and check out survival manuals or take a survival course for their next adventure.

Posted by: Joseph Edwards | Jan 07, 2014 08:05

The article I read about the three hikers got me to thinking about a community service.  I do not profess to be qualified to do this but if someone would volunteer then it would probably be a life saving endeavor.  What I am talking about is very simple.  Maybe a weekly, (once a week), column about basic survival skills could be put in the Mountaineer.  Just something about how to build a lifesaving shelter, how to forage for food and water and most importantly how to build a fire to keep warm in the cold days and evenings if you find yourself out and about in the mountains this time of year.

It could be called "Using Nature to Nurture Your Needs".  or something like that.


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jan 08, 2014 09:18

      No offense to commentator's but, you can't fix stupid. Common sense is too easy to avoid. As We the people are paying for search and rescue of unfortunates, nitwits or just unlucky, I'd suggest a permit be issued for any hiking/camping with a preliminary map detailing their intentions and whereabouts. Also a rudimentary class on survival skills. Requiring a tracking beacon would help.

          We the people own the public parks, etc. We can insist they be used responsably. Irresponsable need to pay for their own mistakes.





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