TOWNSEND (WATE) – Park rangers are searching for a Blount County teen believed to be lost in the southwestern area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Austin Bohanan, 18, was reported missing around 8 p.m. on Sunday. He was last seen hiking off-trail in a remote southwest corner of the park on Friday evening. Twenty-four members of the Park Search and Rescue Team are searching for the teen. They are focusing on the southwest area of the park near Highway 129. The search continued on Tuesday.
He is described to be between 5-feet-2-inches-tall and 5-feet-five-inches-tall. He weighs around 120-150 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, an unknown color a t-shirt and a blue Nike baseball cap.
Twenty-four members of the Park Search and Rescue Team are searching for the teen. They are focusing on the southwest area of the park near Highway 129. The search continued on Tuesday.
Thirteen members of the Park Search and Rescue Team began a ground search Monday morning, focused on the southwest area of the park near Highway 129.
The Tennesee Highway Patrol used a Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter for a visual search on Tuesday. Two canine search teams from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were asked to help with the search Wednesday.
Only a limited amount of trained searchers are being used because dog teams can be hampered by additional people in the area.
Park rangers say the teen was on a day hike with his stepfather when they became separated. The circumstances are still being investigated, but rangers say it is a very tough area to search because there is little to no cell service and no trails.
“This terrain is very difficult to navigate. It’s very full and lush vegetation – mountain laurel thickets, which make it very difficult for crews to maneuver through,” said Jamie Sanders with the park.
“I decided to come because they need support. They are getting a lot of support but we felt like they need spiritual support,” said Jimmy Riner, pastor of Maple Grove Baptist Church in Maryville.
Riner, the family’s pastor, was one of a dozen or so people who stopped by to be with Bohanan’s parents. He says they are a close and loving family.
“It hurts more than you know. It’s just something until you go through it, you don’t really know,” Riner said.
Park rangers say their major concern is dehydration or any possible trauma-related incident because the terrain is so rough.
If you have any information, contact the park at 865-436-1230.