National

Falling tree kills tourist driving through Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Little River Road travels from Gatlinburg and Townsend through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Little River Road travels from Gatlinburg and Townsend through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park photo

A 64-year-old tourist driving through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was killed Monday by a fallen tree, according to the National Park Service.

Patrick Cook Elliott of Knoxville, Tennessee, “died shortly after his vehicle was struck by a fallen tree along Little River Road,” a release said.

It happened about 3:45 p.m. Monday, seven miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center on the Tennessee side of the national park, officials said in the release.

Elliott was driving west in a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the accident happened, park officials said. A passenger in the vehicle, a female, was not hurt in the collision, officials said.

Investigators said Elliott was taken to a hospital in Sevierville, Tennessee. “There were no obvious signs of blunt force trauma due to the impact of the fallen tree,” the release said. “The cause of death is under investigation.”

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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