GATLINBURG (WATE) - Authorities say a woman was stabbed and sexually assaulted Friday afternoon on a trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The suspect fled the scene.
The incident was reported to park officials at 2:43 p.m. The 44-year-old victim was stabbed multiple times while she was on the Gatlinburg Trail. She made her way from the trail to Highway 441 and flagged down a visitor, who reported the incident.
Authorities say they don't know a motive for the stabbing. The woman was flown to UT Medical Center.
Park rangers and Gatlinburg police closed the Gatlinburg Trail at both ends.
"We believe this was an isolated incident," says Chief Ranger Clay Jordan in a press release. "Rangers have combed the area and believe the suspected has fled the area."
The trail goes 1.9 miles one-way from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg. It runs through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. It's frequently used by joggers, walkers and bicyclists.
The suspect is described as white, around 5'7", appearing to be in his 40s, with a thin build, a crew cut and a thin mustache. He wore black dress pants and a T-shirt. He also has multiple tattoos, including one on his stomach, and no distinctive accent.
Anyone with any information about this incident should call the park dispatch emergency line at 865-436-9197.
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