Gatlinburg, Tennessee – A woman reportedly jumped to her death at a theme park in the Smoky Mountains Thursday evening.
According to reports, Jessica Rhea, 40, of LaVergne, Tennessee, was found dead under the Scenic Chondola at Anakeesta.
Witnesses who spoke to WVLT said the woman jumped from the chairlift to her death when it was about 3/4 of the way to the top of the mountain.
WVLT News spoke to two witnesses who said the woman fell from the chairlift. Jeffery McConnell said he was visiting the Gatlinburg attraction with his fiancée and three children when the woman, who he described as being in her late-20′s, fell from the lift from about three-quarters of the way up the mountain.
Butler said in a later update that witnesses who spoke to Gatlinburg Police Department officers confirmed that the woman “jumped from the chairlift.”
Before the woman fell, McConnell said that other visitors tried to alert the woman that her safety railing was up, but she did not respond.
McConnell, along with another witness, Jay Deuro, said the staff at Anakeesta kept the ride going after the incident.
“You could see the concern on everyone’s face that was getting on,” Deuro said. In a later update from Anakeesta representatives, they said they operated the lift long enough to get current riders off, then immediately shut it down.
The apparent suicide is still under investigation, ABC News reported.
ABC News reported:
There is an ongoing investigation after a woman was found dead in an apparent suicide at a theme park in the Smoky Mountains, police said.
The woman, Jessica Rhea Ford, 40, was found on Thursday night beneath the Scenic Chondola at Anakeesta, according to a statement from the Gatlinburg police.
The City of Gatlinburg said that they are continuing the investigation as an apparent suicide, in part due to witness statements holding that the victim jumped from the chairlift.
The Gatlinburg Fire & Rescue Department responded to the scene at 7:41 p.m. for an incident on the park’s chairlift. The woman’s body was found shortly thereafter.
Sevier County Medical Examiners’ Office responded to the scene and pronounced the victim dead.
“A tragic incident occurred this evening. 911 was called immediately. Our hearts are with the family of the deceased,” Anakeesta said in a statement.
The area the victim was found was underneath the chairlift that brings guests to and from attractions on the mountain, according to police.