Crews continue to search for missing teen in Smokies

UPDATE: 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.


TOWNSEND (WATE) – Search and rescue crews continued looking Thursday for a missing teen in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s been nearly a week since Austin Bohanan, 18, was last seen. He was reported missing on Sunday around 8 p.m. after hiking off-trail in a remote southwest corner of the park. A search and rescue team is southwest area of the park near Highway 129. The search started on Monday.

“The unbelief. You really think that things like this could never happen to you or your family,” said Randall Dixon, a cousin.

Dixon and other family members have been showing their support every day since the search began. More and more family were showing up and hoping for good news

“If they don’t find him and they open it up, then we are ready to go in too,” Dixon said.

Austin Bohanan (source: family)

Park rangers said Bohanan was on a day hike with his stepdad when they somehow became separated. WATE 6 On Your Side was told this is a remote area with no designated trails.

“We just always recommend that you stay within insight of someone and it’s even more important in an atmosphere like this,” said Jamie Sanders, a spokesperson for the park.

Sanders said it is also important for hikers to tell someone where they plan to go. She said if you do become lost, that is the number one thing they have to go on. Jamie also said it is important to stay put if you do get separated from the group and get lost.

Because there are no designated trails nearby, rescue crews said the search area is large. They said it is making it more difficult to find Bohanan. Family was not losing hope.

“Stay strong, Austin. They are doing their best to get you,” Dixon said.

Bohanan disappeared on Friday while hiking with his stepfather but was not reported missing until Sunday night. Some family members, like Dixon, did not know why. Sanders did not give any details either but said everything that happened between Friday and Sunday is under investigation.

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