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Hiker separated from her daughter still missing 6 days later in Great Smoky Mountains

Mitzie Sue Clements was with her daughter hiking on an established park trail when the two became separated Tuesday.
Mitzie Sue Clements was with her daughter hiking on an established park trail when the two became separated Tuesday.

The popular Clingmans Dome tower in the Great Smoky Mountains was closed off Friday as searchers continued looking for an Ohio woman who went missing Tuesday in the national park.

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Mitzie Sue Clements was with her daughter hiking on an established park trail when the two became separated, says the National Park Service in a Facebook post.

Clements, 53, has not been seen since, officials said.

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About 125 trained searchers from 30 state and local agencies were looking for Clements in steep, “unforgiving terrain,” Acting Chief Ranger Jared St. Clair said in a park Facebook post Saturday.

They “have worked through rain, fog, wind and low temperatures in the 40s over the last several days,” according to the post.

Searchers have focused their efforts around Clingmans Dome near where she disappeared, and the road to the observation tower has been closed “to ensure the safety of search crews,” the park said in a Friday Facebook update. Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet, is the highest point in Tennessee, says the National Park Service.

“The road will remain closed until further notice and we cannot estimate its opening at this time,” said the post.

Clements “was last seen on the Forney Ridge Trail, about a quarter-mile from Andrews Bald” at 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the park’s Saturday Facebook post.

She is white, 5-feet-6-inches and 125 pounds, according to the post. Clements has light brown hair and blue eyes.

“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,” the park said on Facebook Saturday.

The search includes helicopters and “multiple” canine teams, the park said. “Specialized search and rescue drones, operated by FAA-licensed pilots are being used in some areas,” according to Saturday’s post.

The closed road is among those serving as a “landing zone” for aircraft, the park said in the post.

Clements is from Cleves, Ohio, said the park service.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports she and her 20-year-old daughter were close to the Clingmans Dome parking lot when they lost sight of each other. Clements’ daughter reported her missing around 5 p.m. Tuesday, the newspaper said.

Clements works as an accounting tech for the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, reported TV station WCPO. Cleves is about 10 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

National Parks Traveler says Clements’ disappearance comes just two weeks after a 30-year-old Tennessee man died in the park while poaching ginseng roots. His body had “signs of being fed on,” and an aggressive bear was found nearby, the site reported.

The bear was trapped and “biologists recovered human DNA from it” before the bear was euthanized, said TV station WLOS.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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