Missing hiker was tied to tree, emergency radio calls reveal
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. -- A missing hiker rescuers found off a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway had been tied to a tree, according to emergency radio calls.
A firefighter with Reems Creek Volunteer Fire Department tells a dispatcher at Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center the 64-year-old woman was alive, according to recordings obtained by News 13.
"She's not deceased at this time," a rescue worker at the scene told a dispatcher. "She is tied to a tree. This is the one they were looking for."
National Park Service Rangers are investigating the incident as a possible assault.
The recording says the hiker was found near Potato Field Gap, which is less than 4 miles from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.
The rescuer asks for park police to be sent to the location quickly.
"We have located her, but we need a park ranger up here," another rescue worker said.
Rescuers started looking for the woman after her friend called 911 at 1:25 p.m.
Rescuers found her about an hour later.
She had been hiking on a trail near Craggy Gardens.
The woman was taken to Mission Hospital. Her condition is not publicly known today.
On Thursday, a News 13 crew witnessed activity in the area, but law enforcement on the scene would not release many details. They would only say a hiker had been injured.
There is no suspect information available at this time. Investigators say they don't have a reason to believe this incident was anything other than an isolated event.
Parks service investigators are urging anyone who may have seen anything suspicious around Craggy Gardens and along the Mountains to Sea Trail come forward.
Call the NPS investigative tip line at 888-653-0009 with any relevant information.