Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been searching for Derek Joseph Leuking, 24, of Louisville, Tenn. who was reported missing by co-workers and family members on Thursday, March 15. Leuking was reportedly last seen at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 17 at the Microtell Hotel in Cherokee.
The subject’s white Ford Escape was located Saturday morning at the Newfound Gap Parking Area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since that time Rangers have searched over 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail and other connecting trails radiating out from Newfound Gap, but have not found any conclusive signs of Leuking. He was believed to be carrying a dark colored daypack, but not a tent or sleeping bag for overnight use.
The subject is described as a white male, 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 ask that anyone who may have seen Leuking either inside the Park or elsewhere since Saturday morning call the Park’s Communication Center at (865) 436-1230.