Cadillac Man Saved on Hiking Trip in the Smoky Mountains

A Northern Michigan man recovering after falling in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

What was suppose to be a fun guys weekend hiking in the mountains turned into a life threatening experience.

Bill Runyon from Cadillac fell 20 feet down a steep trail on Sunday while hiking in the Smoky Mountains near Mount Le Conte.

He just got home last night, and is now recovering with several bruised vertebra and a cut on his head. Bill says it was one of those scenarios you see in a movie and he can’t believe it happened to him.

“It was hair raising and I started thinking about life about that time, I was very thankful to be alive,” says Bill Runyon, who was rescued.

Bill, his son, and his two grandson’s decided to go hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. “We were doing day hikes up some of the mountains, we went up the Mount Le Conte and its five miles up to the top and we were hiking up there,” says Runyon.

But then the unthinkable happened. “We ate lunch and we were on our way down and my son and I were about a mile off the top when I slipped on my hiking sticks and I went head first over a cliff. I fell about 15, 20 feet and I hit my head on a rock, did a somersault and then got wedged underneath a log, which saved me from going about 500 more feet,” says Runyon.

It took rescue crews four hours to get to him, but they couldn’t get back down due to severe weather. They spent the night in a tent and tried again the next morning. They strapped bill in for the ride of a lifetime. “They took me over two waterfalls, the water was going so bad that they had to have people tie ropes on the one side so that they could get me across the waterfalls without getting, losing the cart,” says Runyon.

They eventually got him to the hospital, but it wasn’t easy. “It was an experience, they worked as a team and I’ve got a couple of their names and cards and I’m planning on donating to the park service down there for them,” says Runyon.

Bill says he is getting better each day and the most painful thing right now is laughing.