The Maryville Daily Times reports 62-year-old David Dinwiddie was rescued after spending four days in a sleeping bag. The hiker, stranded in 2 feet of snow at 6,000 feet in subfreezing temperatures, was carried six miles down the trail. Rescuers had been looking for the man since receiving a garbled cell phone call Tuesday morning. The rescue occurred after hikers reported his GPS coordinates at the Appalachian Trail and Maddron Bald Trail near Inadu Knob.
Here’s the NPS Report:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Lost Hiker Rescued After Nearly Four Days Lying In Snow
On Saturday, December 18th, David Dinwiddie, 62, of Knoxville, left his vehicle at Cosby Campground and began a hike up the Appalachian Trail to Tricorner Knob, a distance of more than eleven miles. On Tuesday morning, three days later, Sevier County dispatch center picked up a 911 cell phone call from Dinwiddie; although the call was broken, he sounded distressed and the dispatcher was able to make out the words Ã¢â‚¬Å“Appalachian Trail,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“frostbite,Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“fall.Ã¢â‚¬Â The 911 center employed a data triangulation procedure to obtain the coordinates from which Dinwiddie had called. They revealed that he was in the park between Greenbrier and Cosby, but about three miles north of the Appalachian Trail. A hasty search of the Maddron Bald and Old Settlers trails was conducted immediately, but no sign of Dinwiddie was found. The number of trails in the area made it very hard to determine just where he was located. Around 10 p.m., three hikers returned to the vehicle at Cosby Campground, contacted rangers, and advised that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d come across Dinwiddie on the AT near Inadu Gap. He had severe frostbite and was hypothermic. When they left him, he was only semi-conscious. Although he had very little food, water or gear with him, he was inside a sleeping bag and lying on a foam pad. Preparations were made throughout the night to rescue Dinwiddie. At 4 a.m., a hasty team comprised of rangers Pat Patten, Gene Wesloh, and park medic Joe Pond began hiking to Dinwiddie with the objective of stabilizing him until he could be flown or carried out. Two Tennessee National Guard helicopters Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one with hoist capabilities Ã¢â‚¬â€œ were launched at 8:30 a.m. Sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts to 70 mph forced a halt to this operation after the first attempt to extract him. A litter evacuation team comprised of NPS and state park employees hiked to Dinwiddie and carried him six miles out on the Snake Den Ridge trail. A winter storm warning was in effect, calling for precipitation and high winds, and it had begun to rain at lower elevations and spit snow at higher elevations, increasing the urgency of the rescue. At 9:30 p.m., the litter team reached the trailhead at Cosby Campground and Dinwiddie was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by a LifeStar medical helicopter. During the period between December 18th and 21st, temperatures ranged from a high of 33 to a low of Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 14 degrees. A snow storm on December 20th dropped an additional 10 inches of new snow, making a total of 25 inches of snow on the ground. Dinwiddie laid in the snow in frigid conditions for three-and-a-half days before being rescued. Dinwiddie was treated at the hospital for hypothermia, severe frostbite of both hands, and moderate frostbite of the feet. In interviews, Dinwiddie told rangers that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d lost the trail on the 18th due to deep and blowing snow, then had slipped and fallen down a steep embankment and had been unable to get back to his feet.[Submitted by Rick Brown, District Ranger]