Man drowns Friday at Abrams Falls in Smokies

Smoky Mountains

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A 73-year-old man drowned Friday at a popular Smokies destination. Blount Special Operations Response Team divers from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office recovered Stephen Musser, of Roswell, Georgia, at 9:30 p.m. near the base of Abrams Falls.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers were called around 2:15 p.m. According to observers Musser was caught up in the current at the base of the falls and was unable to resurface. Rangers searched the area by ground around the falls and downstream of the falls with air support from the Army National Guard. Musser was entrapped by underwater debris. 

Twenty-five people, including members of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, BUSAR Search and Rescue Team, and Townsend Area Fire Department, aided in the search.

Musser is the 10th drowning near the falls in park history. In all, 60 people have drowned in the park.

“Park officials caution that, while swimming in the park is not prohibited, it does pose risks beyond those encountered in lakes or pools,” a release from the national park states. “Park streams often have strong, unexpected currents that can hold a swimmer under water and the stream beds are littered with rocks and sunken logs that can snag or entrap a swimmer.

“Rangers urge swimmers and tubers to be extremely careful when recreating in park streams.”

The park offers information about water safety in the park on its website.

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