View Full Version : ! MISSING - Derek Lueking - truck found @ Newfound Gap !

Sassafras Lass
03-18-2012, 12:11
Posted an hour ago on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/2204920185/) by his family - please message Sheila Lueking (http://www.facebook.com/slueking) with any information.

Don H
03-18-2012, 12:24
How long has he been missing?
Sure this isn't just a hiker not telling anyone where he's going and when he'll be back? Hopefully that's all it is.
Did the family contact GSMNP HQ? I don't see a notice on their website.

Sassafras Lass
03-18-2012, 12:31
To be honest, I'm not sure. I just supposed that since they were concerned enough to seek out the Appalachian Trail forum on Facebook, it meant this wasn't a matter of the dude's cell being out of range. Will update when I get a reply back from his family.

Sassafras Lass
03-18-2012, 23:05
More info - the gentleman was reported missing Thursday the 15th - was last seen at a hotel in Cherokee before sunrise Saturday morning, and has not been seen since.

"Search for missing person


Rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been searching for Derek Joseph Leuking, 24, of Louisville, TN who was reported missing by co-workers and family members on Thursday, March 15. Leuking was reportedly last seen at 4:00 a.m. Saturday, March 17 at the Microtell Hotel in Cherokee, NC. The subject’s white Ford Escape was located Saturday morning at the Newfound Gap Parking Area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since that time Rangers have searched over 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail and other connecting trails radiating out from Newfound Gap, but have not found any conclusive signs of Leuking. He was believed to be carrying a dark colored daypack, but not a tent or sleeping bag for overnight use. The subject is described as a white male, 5’11” tall, 220 pounds with short brown hair and a short beard. He is believed to be wearing black track pants, white tennis shoes and may have had a Realtree camouflage rain suit.

Rangers ask that anyone who may have seen Leuking either inside the Park or elsewhere since Saturday morning call the Park’s Communication Center at (865) 436-1230."

Don H
03-19-2012, 13:58
Park rangers are still searching.

03-19-2012, 15:31
There are currently 3 dog teams on the with Park Rangers, one team is the one I am affiliated with. We are working with NCSARDA, waiting for info from them.

Capt Nat
03-19-2012, 19:49
Doesn't sound right... This thread could turn out badly.

Sassafras Lass
03-19-2012, 20:46
Doesn't sound right... This thread could turn out badly.

What do you mean? You mean he could turn up dead, or you mean that this thread could dissolve into misinformation and arguments (as seems to happen)?

03-20-2012, 22:46
Still no sign. Park Rangers say they've still not had any clues. Search expands...


03-21-2012, 04:41
prayers go out to this guy, hopefully this is just a case of a person being fed up with the world and deciding to just disappear for a while.

Don H
03-21-2012, 06:54
One of the articles I read said they found some clues during the search including a note in his car. They are not releasing details about the clues.

http://www.wbir.com/news/article/212002/2/Search-continues-for-missing-man-in-Smokies (http://www.wbir.com/news/article/212002/2/Search-continues-for-missing-man-in-Smokies)

Don H
03-21-2012, 12:22
This is starting to sound like it might not turn out well.


"Investigation revealed that the 23-year-old operator was believed to be despondent."

Frolicking Dinosaurs
03-21-2012, 12:34
More local news: http://www.thedailytimes.com/Local_News/story/Missing-hiker-was-fan-of-survival-TV-family-says-id-021872

His family is now at Newfound Gap from the Washington, DC area. The note mentioned did not state an itinerary, but all the search teams are looking at sites north, east or west of the Newfound Gap parking area which is located where TN 441 crosses the AT near Gatlinburg, TN.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
03-21-2012, 12:43
There are two people missing - one is a despondent 23 yo man - no photos released yet - and the other is 24 yo Derek Lueking, who was the original missing person in this thread. Both left vehicles at the Newfound Gap parking lot.

03-21-2012, 12:56
Hope he's okay.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
03-21-2012, 13:19
Got details now on second missing person:

03-21-2012, 19:48
Got details now on second missing person:

I wonder if they knew each other?

03-22-2012, 03:51
I wonder if they knew each other?
Doen't seem likely that they would. One is from Nashville and the other from Louisville. One was last seen in Cherokee and the other last seen in Gatlinburg. Cars were found 10 miles apart from each other.

Del Q
03-22-2012, 22:50
Busy SAR week..............notes in cars not good, when I served on a SAR those never turned out well. Sad stuff.

Don H
04-02-2012, 15:59

Still missing.

04-23-2012, 12:14
^^^ wow that was a long read.

hope they find him alright but it sounds like to me.... he doesn't want to be found.

05-01-2012, 00:00
the same thing happened about this time last year about the same place too. two fellows David Harrington and Christopher Cessna. I live right down the road from where this is going on and its a tourist area so they dont like bad news scarring away the money so ill say it there seems to be a trend

05-01-2012, 04:45
This seems to be a lot more than a lost or abducted hiker. News reports say that although Derek purchased a tent and sleeping bag and maps, these items were left in his abandoned truck along with a note that read, "Don't try to find me."

If this is indeed a troubled young man who simply wants to "disappear," it is wrong of him to waste valuable park and volunteer resources if he isn't even on the trail. Because then when a hiker truly IS missing or has met with foul play, less volunteers get involved. It seems unlikely that he is on the trail given that he did not take his equipment. If he is still alive, he should at least have the decency and courage to contact his parents through a phone call; through email or a letter to let them know that at least he is safe. It is cowardly to do otherwise.

05-01-2012, 12:06
Doen't seem likely that they would. One is from Nashville and the other from Louisville. One was last seen in Cherokee and the other last seen in Gatlinburg. Cars were found 10 miles apart from each other.
You never know, with the internet and all sorts of chat rooms seems pretty easy for 2 like minded individuals to get together, either way prayers go out to both men and their families

05-02-2012, 16:25
[QUOTE]While a limited search for Derek Lueking and Michael Cocchini will continue, full-scale searches have ended, park officials say.[\QUOTE]


What a shame... I saw the "missing person" signs when I went hiking on the Lakeshore Trail around Easter. I hate to see that they weren't found.

05-02-2012, 16:27
Apparently I'm bad at quotes...

and I just noticed the Quote button.:datz

Wise Old Owl
07-15-2012, 11:28
Did this ever get solved?

07-15-2012, 12:04
Did this ever get solved?

According to this article ( http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/may/20/family-friends-search-derek-lueking-ar-1927672/), it doesn't seem to be solved.

The Facebook page has posts of his mother updated last on July 3. They're rather depressing to read, and my heart goes out to her.