Chris Bradley, an Engineering Equipment Operator in Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Facility Management Division, was recently honored with a U.S. Department of the Interior Exemplary Act Award for his role in the rescue of two visitors whose motor vehicle slid off a snow covered road in February 2006 and landed in the frigid waters of the Little River.
"Chris witnessed this accident while operating a snow plow on the Little River Road during a winter storm and without any hesitation or concern for his own well being quickly went to the aid of two individuals," said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. "And for his act of bravery," he continued, "we are recognizing Chris today with the Department's high honor."
When a light snow/sleet mix was falling in the Smokies on the afternoon of February 18, 2006, Norm and Connie Harrell from Knoxville, Tenn., were traveling Little River Road. The road surface was covered with about an inch of snow and their vehicle hit a patch of ice and skidded out of control. The vehicle hit a steep embankment and careened across the road and rolled over the rocky vertical embankment and into the swift moving water. The car landed upright in five-foot deep water.
Bradley reacted very quickly and in the immediacy of the emergency took appropriate action by first using his radio to relay the accident to the Park's dispatch center. He then left the maintenance vehicle and searched for a less steep route to make his way down an embankment to the river to assist the victims. By the time Bradley reached the Harrells, they had gotten themselves out of the vehicle and were standing in the swift current, about 12 feet from shore. While assisting the victims back up river to the path he had taken, Bradley slipped and fell in the frigid water, becoming completely submerged. He was able to make his way back to the shoreline. Even though he was suffering from exposure, Bradley continued to assist the victims up to the roadway where Park Rangers were on scene ready to administer medical attention. Fortunately, the Harrells had only sustained minor injuries, and Bradley was uninjured.
Bradley works in one of the Park's busiest divisions responsible for managing a diverse inventory of resources, including roads, bridges, tunnels, trails, public use buildings, historic buildings, waste water treatment plants, and campgrounds. In addition Facility Management employees deliver essential visitor services and support for critical maintenance operations and functions.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.