CCRS runs 3 search and rescue missions over holiday weekend

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad’s Technical Rescue Team were called to action multiple times over the holiday weekend to perform search and rescue missions.

The team was first called into action over the weekend on Saturday morning to assist in the search for a missing child.

Around 10 a.m. Saturday, members of the Rescue Team responded to a home on Reeser Road to assist law enforcement officers in searching for a missing 3-year-old boy. About 12:30 that afternoon searchers discovered the boy’s body in Buffalo Creek about 300 yards downstream from his home.

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On Monday, the Rescue Team ran two rescue missions on the popular Laurel Falls Trail, which is part of the Cherokee National Forest.

Around 1:15 Monday afternoon, the Rescue Team was called out to locate and assist a hiker in need of medical attention on the trail. 

“We were able to get him out pretty easy,” said John Burleson, the Rescue Coordinator for the Carter County Rescue Squad.

For that mission, the Rescue Team entered the trail from the trailhead located in Dennis Cove, which is referred to as the “upper entrance” to the falls. The mission lasted about two hours and the Rescue Team was able to treat the man and get him out of the woods safely.

Later that same night, the Rescue Team was once again called back to the Laurel Falls Trail to find two hikers who had lost their way on the trail.

Around 10 p.m. on Monday, Carter County 911 received a call from the hikers requesting assistance and the Rescue Team was dispatched.

The hikers were able to provide some description of the area where they were, and Burleson said emergency personnel were able to “ping” the hiker’s cell phone to narrow down the search area.

“Most of those pings are within a half to three-quarters of a mile,” Burleson said. Once the area was narrowed down, rescuers used their experience searching the area to pinpoint where the hikers were. “Basically it comes down to you have to know the terrain,” Burleson said.

The Rescue Team entered the trail from the trailhead located on Highway 321 in Hampton, which is known as the “lower entrance” to the falls. The rescue mission lasted about four hours, and Burleson said they were able to locate the hikers and get them out of the woods safely.

According to Burleson, the hikers got turned around and left the trail. They did not have any food, water, or a light source with them, Burleson said.