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Fresh footprints lead searchers to man lost 5 days in Great Smoky Mountains

Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was “alert and responsive” when searchers located him at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, “near the Cataloochee Divide Trail” in western North Carolina, a press release said.
Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was “alert and responsive” when searchers located him at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, “near the Cataloochee Divide Trail” in western North Carolina, a press release said. National Park Service photo

A New Jersey man who vanished five days ago while hiking in Haywood County has been found in the southeastern part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to the National Park Service.

Kevin Mark Lynch, 58, was “alert and responsive” when searchers located him at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, “near the Cataloochee Divide Trail” in western North Carolina, a press release said.

“Lynch was transported by Haywood County EMS to Haywood Regional Medical Center for assessment where he will be reunited with his family,” said the release.

A Facebook post from the Transylvania County Rescue Squad described Lynch as being “in fair condition.”

Lynch, who suffers from “mild dementia,” was last seen around 3 p.m. Saturday near the Cataloochee Divide Trail in Haywood County, a press release said. He was not carrying camping equipment at the time, officials said.

Searchers began to hone in on Lynch’s location Wednesday afternoon, after finding a hat and sunglasses “1,600 feet southeast of the Cataloochee Divide trail,” said a release.

“Shortly after, a second grid search team, found what appeared to be fresh footprints... Within a few hours, Lynch was discovered after he responded to searcher’s yells.”

The discovery was made just three-quarters of a mile from where Lynch was last seen on Saturday, officials said.

More than 200 people had been involved in the search, with teams from 32 agencies, officials said in a release.

Five square miles had been searched in the past few days, including interviews with other hikers, a release said. A helicopter, drones and search dogs had also been used, officials said.

It was not clear if Lynch had food or water during the time he was lost.

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