The escape from Brushy Mountain

February 16th, 2009 - 5:07 pm ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

On Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 on Dateline NBC, a report was aired about the two men who were shot while hiking the Appalachian Trail and their escape from Brushy Mountain.

On May 6, 2008, Scott Johnston and Sean Farmer headed up the Appalachian Trail for a few days of fishing and camping in the lush and tranquil woods of southwestern Virginia. Scott Johnston usually loved coming up the trail there because it was easier to get on the trail there as well as a chance to meeting hikers. Scott and Sean were near the trail on Brushy Mountain, miles away from civilization, heading for a creek alive with rainbow trout.

Scott, was on his way back to the Brushy mountain after fishing all day. On his way there was a dog in the road and he stopped and got out of his truck, and there was someone who walked up out of the creek bank. They talked about fishing and other stuff. That particular evening, Sean was setting up his tent near a place called dismal creek, that same fisherman stopped by.

Sean and Scott say an unwritten rule of the trail is to offer aid and friendship to fellow hikers and fishermen. And they did just that before the night spun out of control.

The two men demonstrated about the incident, that they were sitting around the campfire, talkin’ about sports, and fishing. It was dark by then, he walked over to get his dog, right in front of Scott’s tent. Suddenly, that friendly (stranger) fisherman turned on them. The next thing Scoot heard was “Pow. Pow.” and I see his arm stuck out towards Sean. Sean was shot right in the side of the face. Scott started running but the stranger he turned back and shot him in the back(shot in the neck). Later on, turned and short Sean in the chest.

Sean was able to turn and run for his Jeep. As he gets in, the gunman runs alongside, and lined him up for the finishing shot. Meanwhile, Scott Johnston has taken refuge in the woods. He’s been shot in the back and the neck. Both men were five miles from any house. And at least 40 miles from probably a hospital.

Critically wounded, in the dark. They got down the mountain by Hammer Down , that dirt road doing like 40 miles an hour - 50 miles an hour. Driving down about two or three mile, reached a sharp curve in the road. Eventually making it down to the bottom of the mountain. They came down across to where there were three or four houses, for some reason, they passed the first or second house.

Melissa Miller answered the door. Miller’s home is about forty miles from the nearest hospital. Scott and Sean were still a long way from medical help. The two friends sat on Melissa Miller’s porch and wrapped in blankets, bleeding, waiting for the ambulance.

While the two friends were fighting for their lives at the Roanoke hospital, 30 miles down the road, a retired sheriff’s deputy, Tom Lawson, heard about the shooting. The sheriff realized the attack on Scott and Sean was eerily similar to a bloody, double murder he had investigated years earlier.

The two friends now carry a new debt because of the shooting. Neither had medical insurance, and Scott’s truck was a total loss. Probably $70-80,000. Scott said he developed a special bond with nurse and patient advocate Judy Snipes.

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