Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have begun a search for a North Carolina man who was reported missing on April 27th. Searchers are also asking that anybody who may have seen Christopher Lee Cessna, 45, during the last three weeks, whether in the park or elsewhere, to contact the park.
Cessna was reported missing to the Cary, NC Police Department on April 27th. They then issued a missing person report, but it wasn’t sent to the park because family members had no reason to suspect that he would go there. The park learned that Cessna was missing when they checked the license plate of Cessna’s 2009 Audi, which may have been parked at Newfound Gap Parking area for weeks. The popular Appalachian Trail crosses the park at Newfound Gap, so it’s common for vehicles to be left there for weeks at a time.
Rangers are mounting a search radiating out from Newfound Gap along the Appalachian Trail and connecting trails. They are looking for clues of somebody having gotten off the trail and are checking the logs at the shelters for any entries related to Cessna.
Cessna reportedly had been despondent and a handgun he owned could not be found at his residence, so there are concerns that he may have planned to take his life. Cessna is 45 years old, white, 5’10” tall and weighs 230 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes and a fair complexion. Anyone who may have seen him is asked to call Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 865-436-1230.