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Tennessee National Guard Helicopters Assist in Two Simultaneous Operations

Tuesday, October 02, 2018 | 07:42am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee National Guard Blackhawk helicopters joined the search on Saturday for a missing Ohio woman who disappeared while she was hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.

Searchers have focused their efforts around Clingmans Dome near where she disappeared, and the road to the observation tower has been closed “to ensure the safety of search crews,” the park said in a Friday Facebook update. Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet, is the highest point in Tennessee.

In addition to search and rescue operations, the helicopters are working with Arpad Vass, a research scientist and forensic anthropologist based at the Life Sciences Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge.

As of Sunday, around 125 trained searchers were involved, as well as helicopters, drones and canine teams. It says the rescuers are working in unforgiving terrain, and volunteer searchers are not being sought.

In addition to the Smoky Mountain search, a Tennessee National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter equipped with thermal and night vision capability joined the search on Monday for a Tennessee fugitive who is believed to have killed two people in the last two weeks, one in a fiery home invasion and another in a carjacking.

Kirby Gene Wallace, 53, is suspected of shooting dead one man, who hasn't been identified, early Monday and stealing the man's pickup truck, according to Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson.

Tennessee National Guard Helicopters Assist in Two Simultaneous Operations

PHOTO CAPTION:  A Tennessee Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk lands at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  National Guard helicopters joined the search on Saturday for a missing Ohio woman who disappeared while she was hiking in the park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. (Photo Courtesy Great Smoky Mountains National Park)