Archived Outdoors

Crashes cause deaths in the Smokies, Parkway

A trio of collisions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway over the past week have resulted in a total of four fatalities. 

At 7:04 p.m. Sunday, July 25, a motorcycle carrying two people lost control and collided with a roadside sign at the intersection of U.S. 321 and the Foothills Parkway at Wears Valley. Both occupants — Benjamin Braunsdorf, 50, of Seymour, Tennessee, and Wendy Fitzgibbon, 46, of Knoxville, Tennessee — were pronounced dead at the scene. 

At approximately 11:07 a.m. the following morning, Blue Ridge Parkway rangers were alerted to a crash in the Balsam area of the Parkway, near milepost 441. Preliminary investigations showed that the vehicle was traveling southbound in a downhill curve when it left the roadway and landed on a nearby guardrail. While the driver sustained only minor injuries and was transported by ambulance to Haywood Regional  Medical Center, the 18-year-old passenger, Alexis Bolduc of Mocksville, died as a result. 

On Saturday, July 31, Weaverville resident Shawn Emory, 38, was riding his motorcycle near Milepost 398 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 9 miles north of Mount Pisgah, when he lost control and overcorrected while traveling southbound in an uphill curve. The motorcycle left the road and struck the guardrail, ejecting Emory. Parkway dispatchers received a report of the crash at 9:30 a.m., and found Emory in serious condition. He was transported to a local hospital and later succumbed to his injuries.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in both the Smokies and on the Parkway. For safe driving tips, visit

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