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Hiker who vanished days ago in Smoky Mountains had no camping equipment, park says

Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was last seen Saturday about 3:20 p.m. at the Swag Resort, along the boundary of the park in Haywood County, said a release.
Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was last seen Saturday about 3:20 p.m. at the Swag Resort, along the boundary of the park in Haywood County, said a release.

The search for a New Jersey tourist who vanished on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now in its fifth day with no new clues, the National Park Service says.

Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was last seen Saturday about 3:20 p.m. at the Swag Resort, along the boundary of the park in Haywood County, the Park Service said in a Facebook post.

Park officials said Wednesday that teams from 32 agencies had searched 5 square miles with no luck, including interviews with other hikers. A helicopter, drones and search dogs have also been utilized, officials said. Searchers have also gone door to door at nearby homes, said a release.

Lynch was on or near the Cataloochee Divide Trail in Haywood County, park officials said.

“Lynch has mild dementia and may be confused about his location,” officials said on Facebook. “He was not carrying any equipment at the time of his disappearance.”

The search teams are finding the terrain gets tougher the deeper they push off-trails, said the park service.

“Teams are navigating through dense vegetation and difficult terrain in the remote southeast area of the park looking for any evidence of human travel,” said an update.

Thirty agencies are not involved in the search, officials said.

Law enforcement and other experts suggest these tips on how to stay safe when you're running or hiking a trail.

Among the greatest dangers facing hikers lost in the park is exposure to the elements overnight, including hypothermia, experts say.

That was the cause of death last year for a 53-year-old Ohio woman who was lost for several days in September near Clingmans Dome, reported the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Searchers looked more than week before finding Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements in a rugged, heavily wooded spot off the Appalachian Trail, the Charlotte Observer reported.

A dominant bull elk bugling in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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