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Rescue crews answer the call

Picture-perfect fall weather drew countless numbers of people to embark on outdoor adventures during the month of October, but some of those adventures went awry. Rescue teams responded to several emergency situations in the backcountry last month, one of which involved a fatality. 


• After four days of searching, teams found the body of missing hiker Chad Seger on Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. 

Seger, a 27-year-old Asheville resident, had been missing since Monday, Oct. 12, when he spoke briefly with a family member by phone. He was reported missing the following Friday and an investigation began immediately. His vehicle was located in the Black Balsam Parking lot. 

Searchers ultimately located him around 3 p.m. Oct. 21 in an off-trail area near the Art Loeb Trail with his gear nearby. A cause of death has not been released. More than 400 people representing multiple agencies from five states participated in the search. 

• An injured bear hunter was rescued from a remote area of Haywood County and transported to a hospital via helicopter overnight Tuesday, Oct. 27. 

At about 5 p.m. that day, Haywood County received notice that bear hunter Richard Warren had been injured in a fall above Sunburst Campground off of Lake Logan Road, and the Lake Logan-Cecil Volunteer Fire Department and Haywood County EMS were initially dispatched to the scene. After assessing the situation, they requested additional resources. 

Getting Warren from the location of his initial injury back up to a trail where he was eventually transported to the hospital by helicopter was a highly technical rescue effort, in the dark, involving more than 900 feet of rope haul lines and pulleys. Two responders were injured in the rescue process and were treated and released at the scene.

Multiple factors including patient condition, responder safety, terrain, weather and time of day went into the decision to call for air support. The Tennessee National Guard helicopter team provided mutual aid to assist the North Carolina National Guard with a UH60 black-hawk helicopter out of McGee Tyson Air Force Base. 

About 60 rescuers and responders representing 16 different agencies were involved in the extensive rescue effort that lasted all night. The final rescue teams were checked back in safely around 7 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28.

• Missing hiker Frank Braden Jr. emerged from the woods safely Wednesday, Oct. 28, after he was reported missing at 7 p.m. the previous day. 

Braden had gone on a solo day hike along the Middle Prong Trail in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but got turned around and ended up spending the night outdoors. More than 30 people participated in the response and searched more than 20 acres of off-trail areas along with 30 miles of park trails. 

Braden was found safe without any major injuries around 4 p.m. Oct. 28 and walked out with assistance from park rangers. 

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