The body of missing hiker Susan Clements was found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park late Tuesday afternoon, a week after she went missing while hiking with her daughter near Clingmans Dome.
Search crews found the body of Mitzi Sue “Susan” Clements approximately three-fourths of a mile south of the Appalachian Trail and two miles west of the Clingmans Dome parking area, according to a park news release. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and surrounding terrain is some of the most rugged in all of Appalachia. Weather conditions near Clingmans Dome during the week of her disappearance included fog, wind, rain, and cold weather. Accordint to Park Service maps, her lcoation was near the headwaters of Higgins Creek in the vicinity of Loggy Ridge.
Clements, 53, of Cleves, Ohio, had been hiking with her daughter on the afternoon of September 25. She and her daughter had hiked the Forney Ridge Trail from Clingmans Dome parking lot out to Andrews Bald. On their hike back, roughly a quarter-mile from Andrews Bald, her daughter hiked ahead to the Clingmans Dome parking area, hoping to squeeze in a hike to the Clingmans Dome lookout tower while she waited for her mom. Her mother never arrived at the parking area.
After waiting in the parking lot and retracing their hike along Forney Ridge Trail, her daughter reported Clements around 5 p.m. that evening. Park officials searched the immediate area that night without success. They next day, a search and rescue team scoured the Appalachian Trail, interviewing hikers and searching for Clements. They spent the night out on the trail.
The Park Service closed Clingmans Dome Road and set up a search and rescue command post there. In addition to dozens of search and rescue teams, the Park Service used helicopters, canine teams, and drones to search for Clements.
During the search, Clements’ family did not speak to the media during the search except to say she was a “wonderful mother to three children.” She was hiking with her youngest daughter on this trip.
Clements worked for the city of Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District as an accounting technician in its administration department. Clements’ brother-in-law, who is a firefighter, and some of his colleagues traveled to the park to assist with the search.
The Park Service did not release any additional details about the cause of death or how or where the body was found. Park officials previously said foul play was not suspected in Clements’ disappearance.