At approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, the northern area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, Tenn. experienced extremely heavy rainfall causing multiple small rock slides, downed trees, and flash flooding along the Spur and Gatlinburg Bypass. Over 4 inches of rain fell in a localized area between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in just a little over one hour.
During this storm event, a tree fell on a 2006 Honda Odessa driven by Barry Willard Wallace, 73, of Cedartown, Ga. along the southbound Spur between the Welcome Center and the Gatlinburg Bypass. Wallace passed away as a result of his injuries. There were no passengers or other vehicles involved in the accident.
Emergency road crews from the National Park Service, the City of Pigeon Forge, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation worked to clear rock slides and downed trees. The Sevier County Emergency Management Agency and Pigeon Forge Police Department also responded to assist. The northbound Spur reopened at approximately 7 p.m.
Park Rangers, the Gatlinburg Police Department, and the Gatlinburg Fire Department provided emergency response to the scene of the motor-vehicle accident. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is assisting with the accident investigation.
For the most up to date information regarding the closure and reopening of main park roadways, please follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter, subscribe to receive text messages by texting “follow smokiesroadsnps” to 40404, or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.
– National Park Service release