A drowning victim was recovered yesterday from a section of the Little River at the Townsend Wye, a popular day use area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Dick Chijioke, 34, from Plano, Texas, was tubing with his family when his rental tube tipped and he fell into a 12-foot deep pool of water. Eyewitnesses reported that he failed to resurface after he slipped out of the innertube. Several people from his group, along with other visitors, attempted to find him underwater before emergency personnel arrived.
The park received a report about the accident shortly before noon from Blount County 911. The Blount County Special Operations Dive team was called in to assist with their underwater rescue gear. They located Chijioke about an hour later near the area where he fell into the water. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him on the way to Blount Memorial Hospital, but he was pronounced dead by hospital officials at 1:05 p.m. Townsend Police and Volunteer Fire Departments, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and Blount County Fire Department also assisted.