Man dies of meth overdose before bear eats him, autopsy says

Officials estimate 1,500 bears are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. (Source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park/National Park Service)
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(Gray News) – It was a meth overdose that claimed the life of a man whose body was found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in September, not the black bear that was eating him.

Park officials released a statement Monday saying William Lee Hill Jr. died of "accidental methamphetamine intoxication," according to an autopsy from the Knox County Regional Forensic Center.

The 30-year-old was found in the park near Cades Cove, TN, on September 9.

"At the time of discovery, searchers encountered a bear feeding on Hill's body," the park statement said.

"Without knowing the definitive cause of death, the next day officials made the decision to euthanize the bear in the interest of public safety after consultation with wildlife professionals and further understanding of the bear's aggressive behavior."

Officials estimate 1,500 bears are in the park along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Though it's rare any show aggressive behavior toward humans, bears that pose a threat to visitor safety are euthanized on rare occasions.

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