Tuesday October 2: Crews have found the body of missing hiker Susan Clements. She was reported missing Tuesday, September 25 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Officials with the park confirmed they found her body Tuesday afternoon two miles west of the Clingmans Dome parking area and about a mile south of the Appalachian Trial -- which would put the location roughly near the Huggins Creek and Takassah Ridge area on the North Carolina side of the park.
MONDAY, October 1:
It has been six days since anyone has seen a 53-year-old Ohio woman who disappeared while on a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Park officials say Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements was last seen in the Clingmans Dome area of the park on September 25. According to a recent post by the park on it's Facebook page, Clements was last seen on the Forney Ridge Trail approximately a quarter-mile from Andrews Bald, at 5 p.m.
She is a white female with light brown hair and blue eyes, is 5-feet-6-inches tall, and weighs 125 pounds. She is wearing a green zip-up sweater, black workout pants over black leggings, a clear rain poncho, and white tennis shoes with purple laces.
PHOTOS | Search Continues For Missing Hiker Susan Clements
As of Monday, October 1, 125 trained searchers have hiked over 500 miles on trails looking for Clements. In addition, experienced search personnel, canine teams, and drones with specialized search and rescue equipment have been used to conduct more intensive off-trail “grid-searches” of approximately 10 square miles.
As of Saturday, Sept. 29, about 125 trained searchers and logistical support personnel from more than 30 state and local agencies and search and rescue organizations are participating in the search operation led by the National Park Service, according to a news release from the Smokies.
Helicopters and multiple canine teams have been deployed for the search effort. Specialized search and rescue drones, operated by FAA-licensed pilots are being used in some areas.
►Download the WFMY News 2 App: Apple Users, Android Users
Searchers have worked through rain, fog, wind and low temperatures in the 40s over the last several days in this mountainous region which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee and several counties.
The Saturday forecast of clearer skies and drier air was a welcome change for search personnel.
By closing the seven-mile Clingmans Dome Road on Thursday night, the park was able to transform the Clingmans Dome parking area into a field “incident command post” from which to manage the complex search.
Infrastructure such as tents and self-contained mobile command buses serve as portable offices for search personnel and provide a place for searchers to escape the elements, refuel, and receive instructions before heading back out to continue the search for Clements.
Verizon Wireless established a mobile cell booster, which is now providing the critical cell and data coverage needed to effectively manage and support the search effort in this remote location. Even the closed road itself has been used as a landing zone for aircraft that are assisting in the search as weather permits. Clingmans Dome Road remains closed for the duration of this critical search operation.
The park is not requesting additional volunteer searchers, since search operations are limited to trained searchers to enable a systematic, thorough search of the area.
“This is unforgiving terrain, and we are working long hours to find Ms. Clements,” Acting Chief Ranger Jared St. Clair said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful for the rapid response by so many well-trained personnel and the generous support resources that our cooperators have dedicated to this search.”
Julena Campbell, park spokeswoman, said there are an average of 100 calls for search and rescue in the Smokies each year. Only a handful of those calls take more than a day to locate a missing person, she said.
Anyone who saw Clements on Tuesday afternoon or since then is asked to contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch: phone 888-653-0009, visit www.nps.gov/isb and click “submit a tip,” email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via a message on Facebook at InvestigativeServicesNPS, or Twitter @SpecialAgentNPS.