Meth, Not Bear, Killed Man in Smokies

A man found dead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in September died of an accidental meth overdose before being partially eaten by a bear, which was later euthanized, an autopsy has concluded.

The bear found near the body of William Lee Hill Jr., 30, displayed “aggressive behaviors” as park rangers worked on Sept. 11 to recover Hill’s body, according to news reports at the time.

Biologists trapped the bear, put a GPS collar on it, and released the animal. After reviewing DNA recovered from the bear, officials determined it should be killed. The bear was tracked and fatally shot Sept. 16.

Hill, of Louisville, Tenn., died of an accidental meth overdose, park officials said Monday, Feb. 4.

Hill had a history of drug use, and his body was found near drug paraphernalia, the Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper reported, citing the autopsy report.

His body was found near Rich Mountain Road in the Cades Cove area of the park four days after he became separated from a friend while they were searching for ginseng.

The Sentinel also reported that Hill’s friend, Joshua David Morgan, died Oct. 1, but the cause of death was not clear. The newspaper said Morgan’s obituary described the two as best friends.

Lead image via Pixabay.

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Comments 2

  • Mike S : Feb 6th

    I guess we’ll never know the effects of second had meth on bears.

  • CAPT Coyote : Feb 23rd

    And the bear was destroyed why? As a retired 30 year federal biologist/land manager/LE Officer, I assume because he developed a taste for human flesh. Bears will do what bears will do…..and people will continue to be stupid. And while this will sound colder and more harsh than many can tolerate, I’ll write it anyway with no apologies: the man – an adult – was using an illegal substance, on federal property, allegedly while collecting plants – again likely illegally (I’m guessing he had no permit). Having dealt with meth heads doing stupid things that endangered themselves and others, then scratch, fight and spit at those trying to save them from themselves, I simply say “good”…..he won’t hurt himself or his family any more. The unsung heros are the underpaid and in many instances under-appreciated NPS Rangers (some who may have been seasonal employees) working in an arguably over used national park…who dealt with an “aggressive” bear simply doing what bears will do.


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