PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) – One Georgia man has died after an accident along the Spur Thursday afternoon.
According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park deputy superintendent Clayton Jordan, one man from Georgia, Barry Willard Wallace, 73, who was driving a Honda sedan along the Spur, died after a tree came down the slope and hit his car.
He was the solo occupant of the car.
Jordan also saying they were still working to stabilize the slopes due to several inches of rain in the region.
“At this point, we may be close enough to reopen these lanes, but folks need to sit tight and see what happens as we work to reopen,” Jordan said.
Danny Harp, a Cocke County resident, was on his way home from work when he encountered flash flooding at the Dudley Creek bypass.
“There was 12 or 15 inches of water coming down the middle of that road and you just had to sit there, and the car shaking around and hoping that the car didn’t slip and start going,” Harp said.
He said he witnessed the rockslide start to come down the Spur.
Fortunately, he was one of the few who narrowly missed getting injured by the falling debris.
“You don’t ever want anybody to get killed in an accident like that. My prayers go out to the family,” Harp said.
Heavy equipment was also brought in to do slope assessments and stabilize them.
Jordan also said the closing of the Spur was due to a series of incident sites involving downed trees and rockslides, that blocked lanes.
Jordan also confirmed there were multiple rockslides.
“The accident is under investigation, I know there were vehicles that suffered damage from tree-fall and rocks, and we do know we have one fatality,” Jordan said.
They were aiming to get the rest of the roadway reopened by Thursday evening; the northbound lanes of the Spur were reopened shortly before 7 p.m.
Just before 9 p.m. Thursday night, the southbound side was reopened, with a single lane closure near Flatbranch.
Officials were cautioning drivers to slow down and watch out for any debris.