Search continues for missing Louisville man in the Smokies

Search continues for missing Louisville man in the Smokies

Derek Joseph Lueking (source:National Park Service) Derek Joseph Lueking (source:National Park Service)

GATLINBURG (WATE) - Thirty searchers, three tracking dog teams and a helicopter are continuing a search Tuesday for a missing man who may be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Derek Joseph Lueking, 24, of Louisville, Tennessee, was reported missing by co-workers and family members on Thursday, March 15.

Lueking's white Ford Escape was found Saturday morning at the Newfound Gap Parking Area in the Smokies. The area is on the Tennessee-North Carolina state line.

On Saturday and Sunday, rangers hiked over 40 miles of trails that radiate out from Newfound Gap, looking for signs of Lueking and interviewing hikers to see if anybody had met him, but they had no success.

Park trackers and search dog teams are following up on potential clues that might help determine Lueking's route after he left his car.

Other teams are expanding the search areas to include the overlooks along Newfound Gap Road and Clingmans Dome Road.

A helicopter from the North Carolina Highway Patrol is surveying the areas along Newfound Gap Road, and some of the trails accessed from the Newfound Gap Trailhead.

Search personnel are also posted at some of the popular trailheads such as Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, Sugarlands Visitor Center and Clingmans Dome. They're handing out flyers in case somebody coming out of the backcountry may have seen Lueking.

Lueking was believed to be carrying a dark colored daypack, but not a tent or sleeping bag for overnight use.

Lueking is 5'11" tall, 220 pounds with short brown hair and a short beard. He is believed to be wearing black track pants, white tennis shoes and may have had a Realtree camouflage rain suit. 

Rangers have also considered that Lueking may have left the park. They're asking anyone who may have seen him since Saturday to call 865-436-1230.

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