ELIZABETHTON — A rescue effort by the Carter County Rescue Squad on the Appalachian Trail on Iron Mountain went awry Friday when an all-terrain vehicle used by the squad had brake trouble and crashed.
The driver and the two hikers who had been rescued from the trail were transported to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. The squad’s Joshua P. Brown was driving the ATV and Trinity M. Largent, 20, Elizabethton, and Robert Paul Shank, 21, Mountain City, were the passengers.
CCRS Director Terry Arnold said the two hikers were feeling ill from dehydration and called 911 for help. The squad’s Search and Rescue Team was mobilized and used four-wheel off-road vehicles to access the trail from Hurley Hollow Road.
The hikers were picked up and rode on the back of Brown’s ATV, while the other rescue team members rode on other four wheelers. Brown told Carter County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Larry Vaughn that he was following two other ATVs, operated by Keith Ellis and James Heaton.
As the team was negotiating a steep portion of Enchanted Forest Private Drive, Brown said his brakes began to get hot and the vehicle began picking up speed. Brown said he attempted to downshift from second into first gear in order to slow the vehicle enough so he didn’t run into the ATVs in front of him.
When he was not able to slow the vehicle down, Brown swerved to the right side of the driveway, along a bank. The vehicle traveled approximately 45 feet along the paved driveway, then struck a large hole, which caused the bed of the vehicle to rotate in a counterclockwise movement, throwing Largent and Shank out of the vehicle and onto the driveway. The vehicle then struck a small rock outcropping, which caused the cab to flip over and Brown hit the windshield.
The witnesses told Vaughn they could smell the brakes burning and they could feel the heat radiating from the wheels.