Around 4:45 p.m. that day the words, “She is 10-4. She is 10-4” were heard on the scanner, followed a moment later by an audible cheer from the staff at Hawkins County Central Dispatch as Carlie’s rescue and the arrest of her accused abductor, 57-year-old Gary Simpson, were reported by police over the air.
Her rescue ended eight days of worry and dread, not only for her parents and family, but for all of Hawkins County and many people who followed the story across the nation.
The Times-News broke the news of her rescue first with the headline: ‘She is 10-4': Carlie rescued, Simpson arrested in remote area near Clinch Mountain.
The online response was so great that the newspaper’s entire corporate Internet system was momentarily shut down affecting sister newspapers from Ogden, Utah, to Mountain City, and numerous locations in between.
Simpson, an uncle by marriage and former guardian of Carlie, took the girl from her school the afternoon of May 4 after telling school staff her father had been injured at work.
They were discovered camped in Simpson’s van by two members of a four-man search party in a remote area of Hawkins County off Gravely Valley Road near the Hancock County line.
By all accounts Carlie has recovered from the ordeal and is doing well.
Hawkins County’s remaining Top 10 stories of 2016 include:
2. “Mayday: Trapped firefighters OK as forest fire rages above Laurel Run Park”
On the evening of Nov. 8, seven firefighters were cut off by a wildfire while rescuing an injured man on Bays Mountain above Mountain View Road south of Church Hill. They carried the man to safety by climbing down a steep ridge. Ruled an arson, the fire burned for nearly a week and forced Laurel Run Park to be closed for several days.
3. “Hawkins boy enjoys tearful reunion with dog that was rescued from deep hole”
It was a three-part saga Oct. 12-14 starting with the dramatic rescue of a dog from a deep pit at the abandoned nuclear reactor site at Phipps Bend, followed the next day by a rescuer’s decision to adopt the dog who was nicknamed “Timmy” and finally an 8-year-old boy’s tearful reunion after his mom saw the dog, actually named “Dozer,” on the front page of the Times-News.
4. “Hawkins firefighters who battled Gatlinburg wildfires honored by commission”
Dozens of Hawkins County firefighters and rescuers volunteered to go to Gatlinburg on Nov. 28 and put in hundreds of man-hours helping battle the Gatlinburg wildfires. Many of the volunteers thought they would be providing water support only to find themselves put on the front lines upon their arrival.
5. “Carlie rescuers disperse 'almost' $40,000 to 26 charitable organizations”
It was God who led four men to the location of missing Carlie Marie Trent on May 12 after eight days of searching, and it was God who led those same men to contribute most their $40,000 reward to 26 local charities on Aug. 16.
6. “Peyton Manning offers words of encouragement for injured Cherokee quarterback”
Cherokee High School quarterback J.T. Brooks suffered a serious spinal injury during a May 23 scrimmage. Following months of rehabilitation in Atlanta, he was back home for Christmas.
7. “Church Hill EMS notifies employees they're out of business”
It had always been considered the more financially secure of the county’s two ambulance services, but on Aug. 24 Church Hill EMS announced it was shutting its doors and laying off 47 employees. It later filed for bankruptcy.
8. “Cherokee Robotics team proves it belongs on the world stage”
Robot mania hit Rogersville in April and May. Following a second place finish in national competition in Knoxville, the Cherokee Robotics Team accepted an invitation to compete in the Robotics World Championships in St. Louis.
9. “Hot shots: Volunteer's NJROTC air rifle team ranked No. 1 in nation”
It took a keen eye and a steady hand for Volunteer High School’s NJROTC air rifle team to be ranked No. 1 in the country in February. It didn’t hurt having the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked individual shooters in the nation on the team.
10. “Mayhem ensues as Mount Carmel BMA reinstates police chief”
It was a rough year in Mount Carmel politics, but there were probably no more fireworks than during a Jan. 28 BMA meeting. The board reinstated fired police chief Jeff Jackson, who had been fired by Mayor Larry Frost a month earlier, although Frost tried to leave the meeting before a vote was taken, resulting in an eruption of hot tempers.