64-year-old Hiker Found Alive And Tied To A Tree

National Park Service Rangers are asking for any information about a possible assault after firefighters discovered a woman tied to a tree near Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge Parkway Thursday, May 12, 2016.

In the early afternoon, the Reems Creek Fire Department had responded to a call for a lost person who was possibly having a medical issue, according to a captain with that Weaverville-based agency.

A woman called dispatchers at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, saying she was getting texts from a friend in the area of Snowball Trail at Craggy Gardens. The 911 caller identified herself as a caretaker for the 64-year-old woman, who was hiking. The caller said she had gotten different texts from her friend about changing hiking plans, but then received messages that the woman was having an emergency.

“She has something that looks like seizures, and when she does, she is conscious long enough sometimes to send a text but generally it renders her somewhat mute,” the caller said in a 911 recording.

When crews arrived, they discovered the woman tied to a tree. Officials have declined to discuss details of those circumstances. She was transported to Mission Hospital. The woman was located near Craggy Gardens, accessible by motorists on the Blue Ridge Parkway and by hikers along the popular Mountains to Sea Trail.

Rangers are asking anyone who might have seen suspicious activity in that area from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday to call an investigative tip line at 888-653-0009.

National Park Service Rangers released a possible suspect description in connection with the investigation. The man is described as being a generally unkempt white male, about 50 years old, with salt-and-pepper hair and facial hair that is partially grown in, according to a statement released late Friday by Leesa Brandon, a public information officer with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

He was believed to be wearing a light or faded grey short sleeve T-shirt, old or faded baggy blue pants and a dark pair of tennis shoes. The man may have smelled musty from going unwashed for several days, according to the release.

Officials do not have reason to believe the incident was anything other than isolated and all visitor facilities in the area remain open, according to a statement from the National Park Service.


Officials confirm woman found tied to tree was assaulted

Officials with the National Park Service confirmed that a woman found tied to a tree last week along the Blue Ridge Parkway was assaulted. A 64-year-old woman was discovered in the area of Craggy Gardens, a popular destination along the parkway for its sweeping views. Craggy Gardens is about 20 miles from Asheville, N.C. The woman, whose service dog was nearby, was released from the hospital later that day.

Neal Labrie, chief ranger for the Blue Ridge Parkway, in an email confirmed that an assault occurred and that the “information the (National Park Service) is going to release has been released.”

The woman was found barely alive about an hour after a friend reported her missing.

Composite sketch of suspect in Craggy Gardens assault released

Possible suspect in Parkway assault arrested in Asheville


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