Tree falls on tent and kills girl, 7, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Park Rangers said this is the first time someone was killed from a tree falling on a tent in the 90-year history of the park.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - A family camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains ended in heartbreak. A 7-year-old girl died when a tree fell on her family’s tent while they were sleeping at the Elkmont Campground.

It’s the first time something like this has happened in the national park.

On Wednesday, investigators were still on the scene and had roped off the area where the incident had happened.

Park rangers said the call came in just after midnight to 911 for help after a two-foot wide red maple fell on a tent at campsite B-5 in the Elkmont area.

“Dying because of a tree falling on you is incredibly rare in and of itself, this is the first recorded time that we have ever had anybody die because of a tree that fell on their tent in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Dana Soehn, a national park spokesperson.

The 11 other incidents which involved a tree falling and killing someone, are more related to motor vehicle accidents or someone hiking along a trail.

“The other ones were primarily related to a motor vehicle accident where a tree fell while somebody was driving along one of our scenic roadways, or it was related to somebody hiking along the trail,” she said.

Investigators said the campsite and those adjacent to it will be closed for a few days while they try to figure out exactly what happened.

“Again, it’s an incredibly rare incident that occurred at Elkmont Campground and incredibly tragic and our hearts go out to the family in this incident,” Soehn said.

The last time someone died from a tree falling was when a tree fell on a car during a heavy rain storm in 2019. One person was killed in that accident on The Spur.

National Park Rangers say this is the first time someone was killed from a tree falling on a...
National Park Rangers say this is the first time someone was killed from a tree falling on a tent in the 90 year history of the park.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

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