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Search ongoing for missing Florida man in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From NewsChannel 9: A search for a missing man in Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues over a week after he was last seen. Search efforts are centered around a campsite near Bryson City in Swain County.

Gordon Kaye, 68, of Tampa, Florida is described as an avid camper, hiker and hunter. He had reserved a campsite at the Deep Creek campground in the park for two weeks.

Kaye was last seen near a backcountry campsite April 23. His family reported him missing three days later. A search has been underway since then, involving around 120 people from 29 agencies from three states.

“The search teams today are looking at the Indian Creek trail, points where he was last seen in the backcountry,” Park Ranger Emily Davis told News 13 on Monday. “They’re retracing their steps on some other trails as well and following up on some potential clues that they may have found along the way.”

Davis says the search deep into the park presents challenges.

“They’re out there searching some really steep, rugged, tough, terrain,” she says. “The rhododendron is very thick, and visibility is a bit limited at times.”

The vegetation thickness and wind have been making aerial efforts ineffective. Cold weather is also a factor.

“It is windy. Up at Newfound Gap today there was a little bit of snow,” Davis says.

“Mr. Kaye is experienced,” she adds. “He’s an experienced hiker, backpacker, so he does have the ability to know what the terrain is like. We know that Mr. Kaye is in good physical condition.”

Still, time is of the essence.

“Now that we’re getting on to several days of him missing, that is a concern for our search teams,” Davis says.

She says searchers are not sure what Kaye was wearing and has no information whether he had a cell phone with him.

His vehicle was found at the Deep Creek Campground.

As for Kaye’s overall state of mind, Davis says, “We’re working with the family on that.”

Kaye has brown hair and blue eyes. He’s 5′ 10” and 200 pounds.

“The search will continue this week,” Davis says. “We’re so thankful to the dedicated volunteers who have come out over the last several days.”

Anyone who has seen Kaye or has information about his whereabouts is asked to contact Great Smoky Mountains National Park Dispatch at 865-436-1230 or Swain County Dispatch at 828-488-2196.