After 2 hiking deaths, Smokies park rangers say to stay on marked trails

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Two men died just days apart while hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Michal Bojko, 37, fell to his death on Sunday, May 28, from the top of the 100-foot tall Ramsey Cascades. On Saturday, June 3, park rangers recovered the body of James Baker, 56, from Hanover, Pennsylvania. His body was found in Abrams Creek.

Agile Genre and his wife Judith visit the park often. This time they brought their family from Louisiana.

Previous story: Park rangers identify men who died at Great Smoky Mountain National Park

“This is their first trip so were showing them the visitor center first then we are going to Laurel Falls later. It’s beautiful. We love it. We come up here mostly in the fall when it’s really pretty,” said Agile Genre.

Park rangers say in both deaths, the hikers went off the marked trail. Rangers say the trails are all well marked and to stay safe, it is important to stay on the marked trails.

Previous story: Man dies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park after fall from waterfall

“Both of these individuals were off trail and that’s one of the first things you can do to make sure you’re staying safe in the park is to stay on the trail,” said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

“The trails are well marked here so there’s no sense in really getting off the trail and the beauty is there right off the trail so there’s no sense in wondering out,” said Genre.

Soehn also recommends telling someone where you are going and to be prepared.

“Make sure they have plenty of water and snacks with them, make sure they’ve got the right kind of rain gear and make sure that they are going to be ready with the right kind of footwear to have an enjoyable hike,” said Soehn.

Park rangers also recommend visiting the visitor center learn more about the trail you want to hike and what you need to be prepared.

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