Those who were at the park at the time say the whole scene was unfortunate. Patrick Hanlon was on vacation from Georgia with his family.
“We got to Gatlinburg on Sunday and today was our last day. So yesterday was our last full day to do something,” he said, describing the day. Hanlon said the family decided to visit the Anakeesta theme park.
“I think we got up there between 2 and 3 o’clock,” Hanlon said. “The views were phenomenal, we ate at a good restaurant, and the kids got to do the mountain coaster. It was great.”
That is until they started seeing first responders coming up the mountain.
“We were eating dinner and we actually saw a fire truck or a little rescue truck that they have there, and ambulances and a few cop cars coming up,” he said.
They soon found out that a woman had died and that the chairlift would be closed for the rest of the night. The only way back down the mountain would be by shuttle.
Joe Matthews said he and his family were only on the mountain for a few minutes before the incident occurred.
“We just kept hearing rumors of what had happened but there is no official word of anything we didn’t know what had happened and we just kept seeing this long line forming trying to get off the mountain.”
Both Mathews and Hanlon say trying to get back down the mountain was chaotic, and their hearts go out to everyone involved.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their family,” Mathews said.
State regulators were at the scene Friday to assist in the investigation. Reports from the past four inspections at Anakeesta were released, showing zero violations.