UPDATE: Knox County man reported missing in Great Smoky Mountains found safe, uninjured


GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — UPDATE 5 p.m. Oct. 28, 2020 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials said Wednesday evening that the missing hiker had been found and uninjured.

Fred Braden Jr. of Powell had been reported missing on Tuesday.

According to a park release, search-and-rescue team members found Braden at approximately 4 p.m. Braden, 56, was reported missing at 7:09 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. Park initiated search efforts early Wednesday morning. Braden did not sustain any major injuries during his overnight experience in the backcountry and rangers are currently assisting him to the trailhead for further assessment.

More than 30 people assisted in the response, including members of BUSAR, an all-hazards search-and-rescue team that assists with operations inside the park. Responders searched more than 20 acres of off-trail areas Wednesday along with 30 miles of park trails.

The Incident Command Team established a mobile base of operations in the Tremont area utilizing a new trailer donated by the Friends of the Smokies.

No information is available at this time regarding the circumstances that led to Braden being lost.

Braden’s family told WATE 6 On Your Side that they weren’t even sure what led to Fred Braden being lost.

Eli Braden, Fred Braden’s youngest son, said his dad left their home around 5:50 a.m. Tuesday and was expected to return, or at least call, by dinner time.

He said his dad told him the trail he was supposed to hike, which was the Middle Prong Trail, but that was about all he knew.

Eli Braden said his dad is an avid hiker and is in great physical shape, so he didn’t expect him to be too hurt, but probably just lost. 


GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are searching for a Knox County man who was reported missing on Tuesday.

Park rangers are searching for a 56-year-old Fred Braden Jr, of Powell, who was day hiking along the Middle Prong Trail in the Tremont area of the park on Tuesday. He was reported missing just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Braden is 5-feet, 6-inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray pullover sweatshirt with a red T-shirt underneath and light jogger pants. He also had a brown corduroy JanSport backpack.

Anyone hiking in the Middle Prong Trail area on Tuesday, Oct. 27, may have helpful information and is requested to contact the park’s Emergency Communication Center at 865-436-1230.  

Rangers have initiated containment efforts and a hasty ground search this morning with 12 members of the park’s Search and Rescue Team.  

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