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Search Continues for Man Missing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Search Continues for Man Missing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

UPDATED Tuesday, August 22 – After eleven days missing, 18-year-old Austin Bohanan walked out of the remote backcountry area near Panther Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at about 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Bohanan was last seen Friday, August 11 while hiking off-trail in a remote area of the park and was reported missing on Sunday, August 13. Search and rescue teams, hampered by the rugged terrain and dense vegetation, launched an extensive search of the area where he was last seen.

Rural Metro transported Bohanan to Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tenn. His condition was not released.

Previous Story August 14, 2017

Search teams spent another day looking for a Blount County man reported missing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the weekend. According to park officials, 18-year-old Austin Bohanan was reported missing to Blount County authorities at about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 13, 2017. He was reportedly last seen hiking off-trail in the remote southwest corner of the park on Friday evening.

Bohanan is a white male between 5’2”-5’5” feet tall, weighs between 120-150 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.  He was last seen wearing blue jeans, unknown color t-shirt, and blue Nike baseball cap.

Search Crews Looking for Austin Bohanan

Search Crews looking for Austin Bohanan missing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Members of the park’s search and rescue team began searching near Highway 129 in the southwest area of the park on Monday morning. Four search teams consisting of rangers from the park’s search and rescue team, officers with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and individuals with the Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue team (BUSAR) continued the search on Tuesday.

Search teams look for Austin Bohanan in the southwest area of the park.

 

UPDATED Wednesday, August 16 – Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials continue to search for missing Blount County teen Austin Bohanan. Late Tuesday afternoon, Tennessee Highway Patrol utilized a Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter to conduct visual search of the area with no significant findings.

Wednesday morning five search teams consisting of rangers from the park’s search and rescue team, officers with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and individuals with the Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue team (BUSAR) have a total of 24 individuals searching the area. Park officials have also requested the assistance of two canine search teams through Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to assist with search efforts.

At this time, search operations remain limited to a select number of trained searchers to enable a systematic, thorough search of the area. By limiting the number of searchers in the area, rangers have the best chance to find Bohanan quickly. Dog teams and trackers can be hampered by additional people in the area when searchers are looking for signs of hiker travel.

If anyone has seen Bohanan since Friday evening please call the park at (865) 436-1230 or dial 911.

UPDATED Thursday, August 17 – Two search and rescue dog teams, provided by Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, joined 30 trained emergency responders in the search for missing eighteen-year old, Austin Bohanan.

The ground search teams are navigating dense vegetation and difficult terrain in the remote southwest corner of the park near Chilhowee Lake. Search teams are primarily conducting linear searches of drainages and ridges looking for any evidence of human travel in the rugged wilderness area.

Teams search for Austin Bohanan

Search teams are navigating dense vegetation and difficult terrain looking for Austin Bohanan.

A dog team assists in the search for Austin Bohanan.

A dog team assists in the search for Austin Bohanan.

UPDATED Friday, August 18 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers sent five teams of searchers back into the southwest section of the park’s backcountry in efforts to locate missing teen Austin Bohanan. The teams are comprised of 26 trained individuals from the National Park Service and Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue (BUSAR). Search efforts are also being supported by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Blount County Special Operations Response Team, Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department, and Blount County Emergency Management Agency.

Coordinated search efforts have been underway since Monday, August 14 across steep terrain within a 6,700-acre search area in the remote southwest corner of the park near Chilhowee Lake. Search and rescue dog teams were utilized on August 17, but did not provide any significant leads.

The search area contains some old manways and roadbeds, but there are no maintained trails. Significant wind storms over the last 10 years, including the 2011 F4 tornado, left behind many downed trees throughout the area making off-trail travel even more challenging.

UPDATED Saturday, August 19 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers coordinated seven teams of searchers on Saturday, August 19, in efforts to locate missing teen, Austin Bohanan. The teams are comprised of 40 trained individuals from the National Park Service, Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue (BUSAR), Blount Special Operations Response Team (BSORT), Blount County Rescue Squad, and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.

Teams are continuing to cover new areas within the 6,700-acre search area in the remote, southwest corner of the park near Chilhowee Lake. Over the past several days, ground crews covered high priority areas including drainages and ridges within the search area. Each day, crews slowly traverse more of the vast area comprised of steep slopes and dense vegetation. One of the teams crossed deeper into the backcountry area yesterday and camped off-trail to continue their search today.

Search and rescue leaders planning.

Search and rescue leaders planning.

UPDATED Sunday, August 20 –Searchers continued looking for missing teen Austin Bohanan, in a remote section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The searchers are working in three teams comprised of 24 trained individuals from the National Park Service, Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue (BUSAR), Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and Blount Special Operations Response Team (BSORT).

The teams continue to slowly search through areas of dense vegetation along the steep slopes found within the 6,700-acre search. Partner agencies have been providing additional support by transporting crews up navigable rivers to get crews into the backcountry more efficiently.

SAR team member traverses dense vegetation.

SAR team member traverses dense vegetation.

Boats transport search and rescue teams into the backcountry.

Boats transport search and rescue teams into the backcountry.

About Candice Fitzgibbons

I am a Sevier County resident and active in my local community. I've spent more than 20 years as a graphic designer and copywriter, creating marketing materials to help small to medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations achieve their goals. I have a passion for equality, the environment and animal rights.