Documentary starring Haywood SAR Team now online

“Safe and Found,” a documentary featuring the Haywood County Search and Rescue Team, is now available to stream online after its premiere Jan. 20 in Clyde. 

Backcountry guardians: Documentary highlights Haywood SAR’s lifesaving impact, shows hikers how to stay safe

As 23-year-old David Crockett opened his eyes to day two of sub-freezing temperatures in the snow-covered Shining Rock Wilderness, he had no idea that, seven years later, he’d be telling his story on film.

Helicopter rescue saves stranded Smokies hiker

 A multifaceted rescue effort extricated a stranded hiker from the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Rescue squad alleges former chairman committed fraud

A longtime leader in the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad is facing criminal charges and a civil suit claiming he used lies and deception to position his construction company for a $2 million job building a new rescue station. 

Body recovered from Whitewater Falls

Two people are dead following an emergency situation at Whitewater Falls in Jackson County this week — a 24-year-old man who fell into the water at the base of the falls and a 71-year-old rescue crew member who was helping to search for him.

STAR Ranch rescues ‘miracle mare’

STAR Ranch Horse Rescue in Haywood County has had many success stories through the years, but a recent horse rescue effort has Karen Owens believing in miracles. 

How to help Hurricane Harvey victims

With so many charities working to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many Western North Carolina residents are curious about the best way to help.

WCU fishing club rescuing Harvey victims

As members of Western Carolina University’s bass fishing club team — the Bass Cats — were in route to assist in the Hurricane Harvey devastation along the Gulf Coast, the rain pelted down on the windshield and the radio kept issuing reports of people who needed to be rescued.

Equipped with four pickup trucks and four boats to provide rescue and emergency support, a dozen members of the team left campus the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 29. They arrived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, around 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Aug. 30, unloading medical supplies, canned food and water before leaving for Orange, Texas.

“We’ve already gotten at least 20 folks to safety, probably more,” said Jason Ashe of Sylva, team member and relief effort organizer, in the dawn hours of Thursday, Aug. 31. “You don’t stop to count, you just get it done, then move to the next call.”

The task ahead of the college students was daunting, but they launched their bass boat near Lake Charles, Louisiana, and made their way into the flooded areas to save those who couldn’t save themselves. The Bass Cats described the scene on their Facebook page as more devastating than any news network could ever portray.

Once there, they were met with an immediate demand for services. Jefferson County, Texas, Sheriff Zena Stephens told multiple news outlets that the entire area was in dire need of a large number of water rescues because of massive flooding and limited response resources.

“My very first call was for an evacuation of a 90-year-old woman who was immobile,” said Jacob Boyd of Canton, team president. “Along with Colby Shope (of Canton) and Zach Tallent (of Franklin), we got her out of the flooded house and loaded her, in her wheelchair, then took her to shallower water where her son was waiting with a pickup truck. She said the water just rose overnight. She woke up with water filling the house, leaving her stranded.”

The WCU fishing team, founded in the spring of 2013, competes in a variety of fishing tournaments and series. For the relief efforts, instead of rods, reels and tackle boxes, they left campus with first-aid kits, locally donated bottled water, containers with gasoline, hygiene items, life vests, Bibles and clothes.

The team witnessed the personal toll the storm has taken on residents of the region. “It’s such a sad situation,” Ashe said. “You’re boating down what used to be a street, with cars and homes submerged below you, and you think about the people who have worked hard to build a life and lost everything.”

Working alongside other rescue units such as the volunteer Cajun Navy, local EMS, and sheriff and fire departments, Boyd said he saw another impact of the flood. “This is dangerous work and you see the stress, fatigue and anxiety that comes from that and being overworked. There’s so much tragedy all around. I’m so glad we’ve been able to be a part of rescues and a happier side of things.”

The team was set to return Monday, Sept. 4, but heading home Sept. 1 after local agencies gained control of the situations in that area.

“We are happy to say that we all remained safe, minus some minor bumps, bruises, and exhaustion,” the team reported on Facebook. “This has been one of the most, if not the most humbling experience any of us have ever been a part of. We did not come to Texas seeking publicity, but it has expanded to something beyond what any of us could have imagined. The amount of support we have garnered throughout this journey has been incredible, and we thank you all so much for your thoughts, prayers, and donations.”

Members of the Bass Cats in addition to Ashe, Boyd, Shope and Tallent are Jack Crumpton, Clint Bartlett, Tyler Watts, Will Crumpton, Parker Jessup, Josh Cannon and Austin Garren.

A Go Fund Me page has been created to help defray team expenses and pay for relief supplies. To donate, go to

‘We never gave up hope’: After 11 days missing, Tennessee teen walks himself out of the Smokies

Austin Bohanan, 18, had been lost in the wilderness for 11 days when he woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to see boats floating on the water below the ridge where he’d slept.

Those boats were his ticket out of the nightmare that began Aug. 11 when he’d gotten separated from his stepfather Hubert Dyer, Jr., during an off-trail excursion in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Chilhowee Lake. Bohanan scrambled down to the water, which turned out to be the tail end of Abrams Creek, and waved down one of the boats. The boaters gave him a ride down to Shop Creek, where his family was gathered to support the crews searching for him.

Mine safety training saves a life

Wresting huge chunks of granite from a hillside is inherently dangerous work, but the safety training provided at one Waynesville quarry has seeped out from behind the stonewalls to benefit area citizens.

Page 1 of 3
Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.