Body of Missing Hiker Found in Smokies (Updated)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced earlier that the body of the hiker, missing since last Tuesday, was found earlier today. Here is the statement from the park's Facebook page:
Search crews located the body of Susan Clements in Great Smoky Mountains National Park late this afternoon. Her body was found approximately two miles west of the Clingmans Dome parking area and ¾ miles south of the Appalachian Trail.

Our hearts are with the family and friends of Ms. Clements. The park would like to extend our appreciation to the many agencies and organizations that participated in the search effort.

Further details will be provided when they become available.
On Wednesday, October 3rd, the park published this press release with that additional information:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced last night that search crews found the body of Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements, 53, from Cleves, Ohio, after an extensive, week-long search. Clements had been missing from the Clingmans Dome area of the park since Tuesday, September 25. A large-scale search operation was launched, which included trained searchers, canine teams, helicopters, and drones with advanced technology from around 50 local, state, and federal agencies and professional search and rescue groups.

Late yesterday afternoon, Clements' body was found off-trail, in a rugged, heavily wooded area of the Huggins Creek drainage, approximately two miles from Clingmans Dome parking area and three-fourths mile south of the Appalachian Trail. The cause of death is under investigation, however foul play is not suspected at this time.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Susan during this difficult time,” said park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are grieving with the family and hope that yesterday’s recovery helps provide some closure as they begin their own grieving process.” He added, “I am inspired by, and extremely grateful for, the tireless work of our park staff, as well as the generous assistance provided by dozens of agencies and well-trained search and rescue organizations.”

Clingmans Dome Road remains closed to allow staff time to remove the infrastructure brought in to help manage and support the search operation. The road and Clingmans Dome parking area are expected to reopen by tomorrow morning.

The family of Susan Clements provided this statement to share with the public:

“I want to specifically thank the National Park Service for their incredible efforts. The cooperation shown between more than 50 agencies was amazing, comforting, and very supportive. Every piece of the operation, including the scientific fronts, logistical parts, and the emotional support provided to us was very impressive. The children, her sisters, and I want to especially thank Jared St. Clair (Chief Ranger), Joe Pond (Incident Commander), James Latendresse (Operations Chief), and Florie Takaki (Family Liaison) for their dedication and support. We also want to thank the countless other people who helped look for Susan. This includes the ground searchers, pilots, drone operators, dog trackers, technicians, EMS providers, the many teams of tactical climbers and rescuers, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. The kids, her sisters, and I greatly appreciate the intense work they performed for us, and we will be eternally grateful.”

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