According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials, Shawn Hood, Steven White and Jonathan Dobbins were taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., on Friday afternoon.
Courtesy: NC Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team
Three Appalachian Trail hikers who were stranded in the snow without shelter have been flown to a hospital by helicopter.
According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials, Shawn Hood, Steven White and Jonathan Dobbins were taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., on Friday afternoon. They live in Gaffney, SC.
White and Dobbins spoke to 7 On Your Side Friday after they were checked out at the hospital. White, in a wheelchair, said he had hypothermia and had trouble regaining feeling in his legs.
The hikers said they prepared for 6 months leading up to the hike and saw only 2 days of rain on the weather forecast. They said when it began to snow, the hikers tried to walk faster but eventually became exhausted.
Wind chills were 20 degrees below zero and snow drifts were up to 2 feet high.
The hikers said they saw another hiker who told them that they had several miles to go before they reached a shelter. They said as the weather got worse, they were dangerously cold.
They told 7 On Your Side people told them their cell phones wouldn't work in the mountains but eventually they used them to call for help Thursday night.
Rescue efforts were hampered by weather, road and trail conditions and the remote location.
Rangers eventually reached the men with warm clothing and tents. They were being treated for hypothermia and possible frostbite. All three were very weak and could not walk.
7 On Your Side spoke with the pilot who rescued the hikers from Transylvania County EMS. He said he tried to help the hikers warm up as best he could and got them to safety.