published Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Two die when wall falls at Gatlinburg sewage treatment plant

GATLINBURG — The cause of the catastrophic collapse of the Gatlinburg wastewater treatment plant basin wall that killed two workers and sent nearly 1 million gallons of raw sewage into the Little Pigeon River remained under investigation Tuesday night.

John D. Eslinger, 53, and Don A. Storey, 44, both of Sevier County, died after the 40-foot-high concrete wall crumbled on top of them at 9 a.m., said Gatlinburg Fire Department Chief Greg Miller.

Rescue workers discovered the victims' bodies under the rubble at 5:30 p.m., after a more than nine-hour search in and around the 32-year-old plant on Banner Road off the Spur south of Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg City Utility Manager Dale Phelps estimated four workers, including the two victims, were on the site when a wall of one of the multi-cell sewage basins collapsed. Those who escaped, he said, were not injured.

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