Body found under chairlift at Gatlinburg mountaintop attraction; police investigating

Gatlinburg police were investigating after a body was found under a chairlift Thursday night at Anakeesta, a popular mountaintop attraction in Tennessee.

The Gatlinburg Fire & Rescue Department was dispatched to Anakeesta at 7:41 p.m., regarding an incident on the chairlift, a press release stated. Fire department personnel found a female dead but officials did not indicate the age of the person or how she died. 

“A tragic incident occurred this evening. 911 was called immediately. Our hearts are with the family of the deceased,” a spokesperson from Anakeesta said.

The nature-themed park near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be reached on a ski lift that has both typical bench seats and closed gondolas.

Guests can choose to ride in an open-air quad chair, pictured, or in an enclosed gondola cabin up to Anakeesta in Gatlinburg.

The park opened at 10 a.m. Friday but the Chondola, which allows guests to ride an open-air and or enclosed gondolas above the Anakeesta Mountain, remained closed, according to the park’s website. The park proactively arranged for an inspection of the lift following the accident, a spokesperson said Friday.

The chief elevator inspector from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Elevator Unit traveled to Gatlinburg this morning to investigate the Chondola Chair Lift, a state spokesperson said.

The chair lift is considered a conveyance device and is under the jurisdiction of the state’s elevator unit, he explained. While on site, the inspector will conduct a mechanical inspection of the aerial lift and review multiple aspects of the lift’s operations.

The list was last inspected on April 21. Its operating permit is set to expire Aug. 4 and a new permit approved, the spokesperson said. Aerial lifts are inspected by the state every six months.

It can take up to eight weeks to complete an investigation, the spokesperson said. Once the investigation is closed, the report will be open for review.

The Sevier County Medical Examiners office also responded to the scene and the incident remains under investigation.