GATLINBURG – Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin scaling back the search for Derek Lueking and Michael Cocchini who are suspected of being missing in the Park since last weekend. Despite having up to 60 searchers involved in the effort for almost a week, serach managers have not found any single clue, beyond the subjects’ vehicles,that they can conclusively tie to either man. Without any concrete leads to pursue, search managers have concluded that it is no longer productive to continue efforts to the degree that they have been in conducted. The Park will continue the search, but at a much reduced level.
The intelligence gathering portion of the investigation will continue and Rangers will be available to follow up on any leads or reports of sightings that may surface either inside the Park or beyond its boundaries.
The Park will also continue to disseminate information about the missing individuals at trailheads and high-traffic areas in hopes that one of the many Spring Breaker visitors who will be in the Park will come upon a clue or see one of the subjects.
All of the Park’s front and backcountry personnel will remain on the alert for any new signs of these individuals in coming weeks.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Dale Ditmanson said, “Each year the Smokies conducts searches or rescues for up to 100 individuals, and virtually all these missions come to a satisfactory conclusion. It is very disheartening for the searchers to work so hard for so long to find a missing individual without success. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of Derek Lueking and Michael Cocchini.”