Tourist taking photo at overlook falls to his death in Great Smoky Mountains, park says

Mark Price

An Alabama man fell to his death Tuesday while trying to take a photo at one of the scenic overlooks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to the National Park Service.

The victim was identified as Wesley Brandon Stedham, 48, of Warrior, about 20 miles north of Birmingham, the park service said in a news release.

Witnesses told investigators the incident happened at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday at the Chimney Tops overlook, along Newfound Gap Road.

Stedham fell about 50 feet “after stepping down a steep slope below the overlook for a photograph,” the park reported. “Stedham suffered severe head trauma and passed away as a result of these injuries.”

Park rangers and a rescue team had to rappel down by rope to reach Stedham, officials said.

There is no fence, wall or guardrail at the top of the slope and park officials say no park rules were broken by Stedham prior to his fall.

Stedham, a high school football enthusiast, was known in the Warrior area for calling Hayden High School football games and doing a radio show, TV station WBMA reports.

“Brandon was larger than life in more than one way, and he loved that way, and he cared,” fellow radio personality Robert Bradford told the WBMA. “We all should learn from Brandon to love family and enjoy life because he definitely enjoyed life.”

The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the nation (12.5 million visitors last year) and the Chimney Tops are among its most popular attractions, the NPS says.