Sixty-five year-old Steve Senior of Bridgenorth, Ontario was seriously injured on Monday, March 11 in a canoe accident above The Sinks area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
At 12:41 on Monday afternoon, the Park Communications Center received an emergency call reporting that an individual was pinned underwater. Senior was visiting the area to attend the “Ain’t Louie Fest” which includes a series of river trips loosely organized by a group of whitewater enthusiasts. Senior became trapped after his canoe capsized and he was swept downstream. Many members of the group are well trained in swift water rescue and immediately began rescue operations. Just as emergency responders arrived on scene, the group pulled the injured party out of the water and began CPR.
National Park Service Rangers, along with emergency personnel from Blount County and Townsend, transported the individual by litter from the riverbank to a Rural Metro ambulance. Senior had reportedly been under water for approximately 30 minutes and was unresponsive when he was rescued, but later had spontaneous heartbeats and respiration. He was transported by ambulance to Blount Memorial Hospital where he is in critical condition.
The Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Townsend Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Department, and Blount County Fire also responded to the incident. Little River Road was closed for over an hour to allow for emergency traffic.