Buford businessman killed in motorcycle wreck

The owner of a Harley-Davidson dealership in Buford was killed Thursday as he rode his motorcycle in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

Ralph Frazier, 50, was killed when a falling tree limb struck him on the head about a half mile east of the Townsend Wye, WATE television in Knoxville reported.

He was transported to a hospital in Maryville, Tenn., where he was pronounced dead.

Frazier's death was confirmed by Flanigan Funeral Home in Buford, which is handling arrangements.

Frazier's dealership was established in 1970, according to the business' website.

It started a small barn with a tin roof and a wood-burning stove and became an authorized Harley-Davidson dealership in 1992, according to the website.

"He was one of the most genuine guys I've ever known," said Bryan Blanott, parts manager at Frazier Harley-Davidson. "He had no qualms about telling it like it was, good or bad."

Blannott said Frazier left last Saturday on a camping trip with his girlfriend and two other friends. He said Frazier's girlfriend, who was on the bike with him, was treated at the hospital and released.

"Motorcycles were his life," Blanott said. "He didn't have to come to work each day, but he did it to be around motorcycles."

Frazier was one of two people killed as violent thunderstorms swept through the Smokies, toppling massive trees throughout the popular tourist spot.

Park spokeswoman Melissa Cobern said the other death was a 41-year-old woman who was struck by a falling tree.

The storms hit Thursday evening at the west end of the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina line. Most of the damage appeared to be in the popular Cades Cove area of the park and in communities just outside the park boundaries.

"There was a lot of rain, a lot of wind. A lot of people lost power," said Sandy Headrick, a resident of the small town of Townsend on the edge of the park near Cades Cove.

"We had some friends who had a tree hit their home," she said. "They're all right, but the house is gone. It came through the roof and took out the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room."

Headrick, who has owned the Highland Manor Inn in Townsend for 30 years, said the storm was very unusual in that it blew out of the north and east. The wind usually comes out of the west, she said.

Power didn't go out at the inn, and Headrick was able to put up people who had planned to go to the national park.

Although multiple injuries were reported in the park, Headrick said she believes everyone in the town is OK.

"Everyone's out picking up branches and pulling tree limbs out of their pools. ... We got a lot of clean-up to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.