Missing hiker died of hypothermia, diphenhydramine overdose

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – A coroner says a hiker found dead in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in June may have intentionally overdosed on diphenhydramine.

According to a news release from the park, 62-year-old Jenny Bennett was found in a sitting position in Porter’s Creek with her head resting on rocks. The coroner’s report concludes Bennett died of environmental hypothermia, but it also found she had ingested a toxic level of diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl. That’s considered a significant contributing factor in her death and points toward an intentional overdose, according to the park.

Bennett, of Sylva, North Carolina, was an avid Smokies hiker and wrote a blog about her trips.

She was discovered by rangers on June 8, two days after she had been reported missing.