Search underway for second missing man in Great Smokies
Michael Giovanni Cocchini (source: National Park Service)
GATLINBURG (WATE) - Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park began a search Tuesday afternoon for a second missing man. His disappearance has not been connected to a search for a missing man from Louisville, Tennessee.
Michael Giovanni Cocchini, 23, is a Nashville resident who was staying temporarily in Gatlinburg. He was last seen by friends at Walmart in Sevierville about 2:00 p.m. Sunday, March 18.
Rangers became suspicious Tuesday afternoon when they noticed a vehicle had been parked since Sunday at a quiet walkway along Newfound Gap Road about one mile south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
The walkway does not connect to the park's trail system so there would be no reason backpackers would leave vehicles there overnight.
The walkway is a short, easy, trail that extends into the woods a short distance off the road and then dead-ends at the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.
Rangers began the search at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. A small group and a tracking dog did a quick search of the trail and a portion of the riverbank, but found no definite signs of Cocchini.
The rangers are being aided Wednesday by eight Tennessee State Department of Corrections officers and Tennessee State dog team. The officers were assigned to the search through the cooperation of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Cocchini is 6', weighs 160 pounds and has short black hair and a scruffy beard. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt and gray or silver tennis shoes with blue stripes.
The park service says Cocchini is not known to be a hiker and had no gear for hiking or overnight camping.
Anyone who has seen Cocchini since Sunday afternoon should call the park at 865-436-1230.