Two hikers spent the night in the Sampson Mountain Wilderness area near Horse Creek Park last night.
The two had embarked on a hike earlier in the day on Friday, but as the afternoon progressed, they realized they would not be able to make it back to their car before dark. They were able to get a cell signal and called Greene County 911, who dispatched the Greeneville Emergency and Rescue Squad around 5 PM
Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt, Rescue Squad volunteers, and Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department volunteers began a rescue operation around 6 PM. They were able to walk in as far as the Squibb Creek Falls, where they met steep terrain and icy conditions. They were unable to access the hikers from that direction, so returned to the trailhead and attempted another route. Rescue Squad volunteer Daniel Ray said that rescue crews were able to get within about 150 yards and shouting distance of the two male hikers around 3 o’clock this morning, but again because of the terrain were unable to access their location.
Incident Commander Gabby Holt, with the Rescue Squad and US Forest Service, said that a Tennessee National Guard helicopter was called to the scene at daybreak, and rescuers were able to lower a basket and lift the two hikers to safety around 9:00 AM. They were flown to the Johnson City Medical Center for evaluation. Coordination for the helicopter was arranged through assistance from Heather Sipe and Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management.
The Rescue Squad, Sheriffs Department, and Tennessee National Guard, Greeneville Emergency Management Director Heather Sipe, the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department, Nolichuckey Volunteer Fire Department, Unicoi County Search and Rescue, and Debusk Volunteer Fire Rehab Division, and the Tennessee Division of the US Forestry Department responded to the scene. Also assisting were TEMA and the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads.