Local high school Biology teacher Will Henderson, 39, was found by two hikers after he broke his leg and was stranded in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for four days.
Henderson, an experienced hiker, had been on the trail for ten days prior to breaking his leg while trying to cross a stream. After breaking his leg, he made a makeshift splint and crawled to get back on the path.
Henderson was then taken to Knoxville to receive treatment and now has been moved to a local hospital to finish his recovery. We interviewed him there to get his first hand account.
“I never doubted that I would be found,” Henderson said. “I got discouraged sometimes, but I figured I had plenty of food and thought that if I could get back to the trail, someone would come along before long.”
When asked about how he kept his head up and kept from being discouraged, Henderson revealed that his family motivated him.
“Besides food, I did manage to keep a few small things with me. I had several pictures of my wife and two little girls. I looked at them a lot, especially when I got discouraged. I would spend a little time looking at those pictures, and then I would crawl a little bit more,” Henderson said.
Henderson was more worried about the people back at home than he was for his own safety. “The hardest thing about being lost was thinking that other people might be worrying about me. I was supposed to meet some friends in Gatlinburg a couple days after I got lost. As it turned out, they weren’t worried, but said if I had gone another day, they would have contacted the park rangers and started a search,” Henderson said.
Now that he is safe and sound, Henderson is looking forward to getting back to normal and resuming his job teaching Biology at Jefferson High School.