HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Rescue teams are now on the third day in the search for Summer Wells, a 5-year-old that went missing in Hawkins County on Tuesday.
Rescue teams have searched close to 700 of a 1,000-acre radius. They say the terrain is extremely rough making it harder for their teams.
Summer’s father, Don Wells, said he is grateful for their efforts and everyone in the community is doing what they can to help find his daughter.
Wells said for the first time publicly that the outpouring of love and support is overwhelming, “We just really appreciate everyone trying to help, law enforcement all these volunteers that are here. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life.”
He said he’s leaning on his faith through this difficult time. “I just hope that God and His mercies will bring Summer home to us.”
New resources have been added to the search efforts and Knox County Rescue is one of the many agencies on the scene.
“Dive teams, hazards and extreme terrain search teams, search subject matter experts, we have deployed the state track and radio system to increase radio coverage for search and lawn enforcement efforts,” explained Captian Tim Coup with the Church Hill Rescue Squad.
Hawkins County Sheriff, Ronnie Lawson asked the public not to help in the search, “We got trained professionals in the woods. We know exactly where they are, how they’re doing, and we check on them routinely. We know how many is out there, who’s out there, and we know when they come back. If the general public helps then we won’t know that they’re out there and we could lose somebody else.”
The TBI said that there are two parts to this case. One is the search and the other part is the investigation. Leslie Earhart with the TBI stated that they are investigating every lead.
“As of this afternoon, we have received approximately 85 tips. Agents and officers continue to follow up on each lead that comes in.”
The community has created a prayer garden at a church near the search efforts. Its that type of love and support Don Wells said he is grateful for. He just wants to see that his daughter is safe.
“Please let Summer be okay. Please come home,” Wells pleaded.
Captain Tim Coup with the Church Hill Rescue Squad said there are over 41 agencies from across the state assisting in the case. The TBI adds that they are only looking for credible tips that can help find Summer. Any calls that are just speculation only impede the search and rescue process.