A 60-year-old man died after a single-bicycle accident Aug. 16 in the Cades Cove area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to a park news release.
Rangers responded to a report of a bicycle accident at 10:58 a.m. The cyclist, Harold D. Pardue, of Elkin, suffered severe head trauma and was unconscious following the single-bicycle accident.
He died as a result of these injuries on Aug. 17, the release said. Pardue was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, which occurred on a downhill section of the Cades Cove Loop Road, which is on the Tennessee side of the Smokies.
Bicyclists enjoy the Cades Cove Loop Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park during limited “vehicle-free” days. (Photo: Courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Park rangers provided critical care at the scene of the accident for about 30 minutes before American Medical Response emergency responders transported Pardue by ambulance to a landing zone where he was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by Mountain Area Medical Airlift.
In June 2018, Sandra Hull,55, of Sarasota, Florida, fell off her bicycle along the Cades Cove Loop Road and died after receiving injuries to the back of her head. She was riding a rental bicycle and was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
This past June, the park implemented vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road each Wednesday, from June 17-Sept. 30, as part of a pilot study to “improve the visitor experience.”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park reached a record-high visitation of 12.5 million people in 2019. Crowded parking lots in Cades Cove show how popular the park has become. (Photo: Courtesy of Warren Bielenberg/Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Cades Cove Loop, a 13-mile road that passes by several historic buildings, is one of the busiest sections of the half-million-acre park.
The Smokies proposed the study due to congested parking areas and disruption of visitor services associated with the vehicle-free periods on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer months that have been in effect for several years.
Karen Chávez is an award-winning outdoors and environment reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times and USA TODAY Network. She is the author of “Best Hikes with Dogs: North Carolina,” and is a former National Park Service ranger.
Reach me: [email protected] or on Twitter @KarenChavezACT
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