Tragedy strikes a family from Indiana while vacationing in Tennessee

Photo Courtesy: WBIR
Published: .
Updated: .

Tragedy strikes a family from Indiana while vacationing in Tennessee.

Their cabin with more than 20 people in it caught fire early Saturday morning.

One man died and a five-year-old boy is still unaccounted for.

It happened in Sevierville near Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains.

The family had just traveled from Indianapolis to Tennessee Friday for a family vacation.

Pastor Christopher Armstrong, Mount Vernon Community Missionary Baptist Church, was the pastor of the man who died.  He says the victim was the family patriarch who had organized the vacation along with his wife for the couple's nieces and nephews and their families.

Less than 24 hours later, many of those family members headed home on a bus chartered in Indianapolis by Armstrong.  He took the bus down to help get the family home in the midst of such devastation.

"They were screaming, 'Help us! Help us!' and then I saw the fire,' said Jennie Urse who was renting a cabin next door to the family at Cabins at the Crossing.

Urse awoke to their screams Saturday morning.

"I ran over and was telling them, 'You've got to jump out cause you can't get out the front!' The front was all on fire. So they started dropping the kids down," explained Urse.

Armstrong says a man who was rescuing others inside the home was a man in his congregation.

According to Pastor Armstrong, the man lost his own life trying to save those he loved when he cut an artery in his arm after breaking a window to rescue children trapped inside the cabin.

"He died doing what he loved most and that was literally caring for others," said Pastor Armstrong.

"He was sacrificial, selfless, more consumed with others.  He wasn't even concerned about himself," Pastor Armstrong added.

The man couldn't get to everyone though.  Armstrong said the rescuer collapsed from his injuries at the scene.

A 5-year-old boy, the victim's great nephew, is still missing.