Autopsy Complete for Man Found in Park in September 2018

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recently received the autopsy report from the Knox County Regional Forensic Center detailing that William Lee Hill, Jr. died of accidental methamphetamine intoxication. Hill, age 30, of Louisville, TN was found off-trail in the park on Sunday, September 9, 2018, near Rich Mountain Road, approximately two miles north of Cades Cove.
According to the report, “An autopsy revealed extensive postmortem animal predation, but no findings of antemortem/perimortem trauma (i.e. Mr. Hill was not attacked by a bear).”
At the time of discovery, searchers encountered a bear feeding on Hill’s body. Without knowing the definitive cause of death, the next day officials made the decision to euthanize the bear in the interest of public safety after consultation with wildlife professionals and further understanding of the bear’s aggressive behavior. The road leading into the area remained closed to the public while the bear was located and euthanized a few days later.
The park is home to an estimated 1,500 bears. Very few bears exhibit aggressive behavior towards humans. Wildlife biologists and park rangers work hard to prevent bears from becoming food-conditioned or habituated to high-use areas. Out of an abundance of caution for the park’s 11 million park visitors, park staff implement aversive-conditioning techniques and, on rare occasions, euthanize individual bears that pose a threat to visitor safety.
Source: Great Smoky Mountain National Park