Search efforts continue in Park for missing Kevin Lynch

by Jul 31, 2019NEWS ka-no-he-da

A grid team navigates dense vegetation in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park while searching for Kevin Lynch who has been missing since Saturday, July 27. (National Park Service photos)


Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials continue to search for 58-year-old Kevin Mark Lynch who went missing on Saturday, July 27.  Today marks day five of search efforts as more agencies are incorporated into the operation.

Over the course of the last four days, grid searchers, trackers, and numerous dog teams have searched a five mile radius intensely looking for any clues as to Lynch’s direction of travel.  Searchers have hiked all trails in the area looking for Lynch, posting informational flyers at trailheads, and interviewing hikers.

NPS Operations Section Chief James Latendress, holding microphone, addresses searchers at an operational morning briefing on Wednesday, July 31.

On Sunday, July 28, North Carolina Highway Patrol utilized a helicopter with FLIR technology, forward looking infrared (FLIR), in an effort to locate sources of heat in the search area.  Since Sunday, drones have been utilized daily to get a bird’s eye view of the area.  Law enforcement officials and fire departments have gone door to door notifying home owners adjacent to the park boundary to be on the lookout for Lynch.  Over 400 residences have been contacted thus far and their associated outbuildings and barns searched.

Yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, July 30, a contract helicopter was deployed to scan the terrain for specific geologic features, such as rock outcrops and grassy balds, to help identify areas that may be utilized by Lynch. Today, trackers and search dog teams will examine any points of interest.  Grid teams will expand their search corridor from 100 ft. to 300 ft. off trails and streams. All-terrain vehicles will be utilized to search several old logging roads and manways located on private land in the search area.

A total of 209 searchers, trackers, and incident command personnel associated with 32 agencies are being utilized in the search effort today, with approximately 60 agencies assisting over the course of the entire operation.

“We are very fortunate to have had such an outpouring of support from local emergency services agencies” said Incident Commander Mike Scheid. “We have the best of the best out in the field searching for Mr. Lynch and we are doing everything we can to bring him home safely.  We continue to be very optimistic that the outcome of this search operation will be a positive one”.

Lynch is a white male approximately 5’5” feet tall, weighs 150 pounds, has brown (salt/pepper) hair and brown eyes.  He was last seen wearing brown cotton shorts, a brown shirt with a white tail deer on it, and a camouflage baseball cap. He was last seen at approximately 3:20 p.m. walking along the park boundary at the Swag resort in Haywood County, North Carolina.  Lynch, from Woodbridge New Jersey, suffers from dementia and may be confused as to his location. If anyone has seen Lynch since Saturday afternoon please call or text the Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at (888) 653-0009 or go to and click “submit a tip.

– National Park Service release