An injured hiker was successfully airlifted from Low Gap Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6:45 pm on Friday, June 14. Nathan Lipsom, 53, from Cambridge, Mass., sustained injuries from a falling tree while hiking the trail during a severe storm event on Thursday, June 13.
Lipsom was extricated from the trail by a Blackhawk helicopter coordinated through Haywood County and the State of North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He was then flown to the airport in Asheville and transported by ground to Mission Hospital.
National park staff assisted the airlift operation on the ground and provided two Park Medics and an EMT for patient care. Damage to the trails around the Cosby and Big Creek areas prevented a ground team from reaching Lipsom for a carry out operation in a reasonable amount of time.
A National Weather Service crew has confirmed an EF-1 tornado in the Cosby area during the June 13 storm. A Park Backcountry Ranger was patrolling the trails around Cosby and Big Creek on the morning of June 14 to assess storm damage when he discovered Lipsom and initiated the rescue operation.