published Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Missing Bledsoe County ginseng hunter found dead

  • photo
    A Bledsoe County, Tenn., man reported missing Thursday night was found dead in the woods not far from the spot he was last seen, authorities said.
    Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A Bledsoe County, Tenn., man reported missing Thursday night was found dead in the woods not far from the spot he was last seen, authorities said.

Bledsoe County authorities and family and friends searched wooded areas on Dayton Mountain near state Highway 30 and Porch Rock Road after 45-year-old Darrell Smith's family reporting he had been missing since Thursday afternoon, according to Bledsoe County dispatchers and Sheriff's Detective Ricky Seals.

Seals said Friday that Smith's body was found about 100 yards from where he was dropped off around 8:30 a.m. CDT Thursday as he headed out to hunt ginseng. Smith's body has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy, but Seals said officials do not suspect foul play.

Family members said Smith had water and food on Thursday, but they didn't know how much he was carrying, according to dispatchers.

Dispatchers said searchers tried several times to locate Smith through his cellphone but were unsuccessful.

Seals said Smith was supposed to have met up with family members around 4 p.m. CDT Thursday at the Bledsoe Farmers Co-Op on state Highway 30 in Pikeville, but he never showed up.

Searchers also looked in the area of Upper East Valley Road, Lower East Valley Road and Old Dayton Mountain Highway where Smith and some of his family members were known to hunt for ginseng north and south of the co-op, Seals said.

Seals said he believes Smith was familiar with the area.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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