A 37-year-old tourist was killed Monday when his car plunged off the steep and winding mountain road that leads to the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Investigators say Timothy Patrick James McCauley died when his car, a Chevy Cobalt, launched off the Clingmans Dome Road “and landed” 50 feet below. McCauley is from Farmington, Missouri, officials said.
It happened about 12:30 p.m. Monday, and the road had to be closed for five hours as emergency responders tried to reach McCauley, said a National Park Service press release.
A passenger, Angela Walker, 38, was rescued from the vehicle and flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, according to the release. Her condition was not released.
Investigators say the incident happened about one mile east of the parking area for Clingmans Dome, one of the most popular sites in the park.
“At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi,” according to a National Park Service website. A tower at the top of the dome offers a 100-mile view on clear days, says the park service.
Investigators have not released what may have caused the car to leave the road, which is steep, narrow and curvy.
This is the third traffic death this summer in the park. In June, a driver died when his car slammed into a tree, and earlier this month, a motorcyclist was killed in a chain-reaction crash that involved two other vehicles, said the National Park Service.