ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. - The second full day of searching in a northeast Tennessee town for a missing 5-year-old girl. Her disappearance triggered a statewide Amber Alert on Wednesday afternoon.
Summer Moon-Utah Wells was last seen at her home in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County, Tennessee. That community is located along the Interstate 81 corridor just over 70 miles northeast of Knoxville or 15 miles southwest of Kingsport, Tennessee.
"I wish we could have been news than we do now," said Captain Tim Coup, of the Churchill Rescue Squad, who is leading the active search.
Captain Coup, the TBI and Hawkins County sheriff gave an update around 1 p.m. Thursday about the search efforts. He said crews had covered a one-mile radius by ground around Summer’s home and hopes to have two by the end of the day. Late Thursday, the TBI said about 680 acres had been searched.
"We're utilized ground crews of 80 to a 100 people of trained professionals, aerial aviation search, both vision and FLIR, medical THB and TBI assisting us with fixed wing, multiple drones, and four different K-9 units," the captain said adding 19 agencies are actively involved and even more are on standby.
Coup said several factors have slowed the active search.
"Some of the issues we're encounter with this search is the steep and dangerous terrain," he said. "We're also experiencing very dense canopy coverage including very dense ground cover."
The captain also said communication with radio and cellphones are spotty. AT&T and Verizon brought in extra resources to the command post on Thursday to try to boost signal and connectivity, but it is still spotty due to the terrain.
He also added that volunteers are not needed and would likely hamper any efforts.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office and TBI continued its investigation of her disappearance.
"As we've stated before, the circumstances surrounding summers disappearance remain unclear, so if we do develop information that she was taken and we develop a suspect and vehicle description, of course we will share that with the public immediately. At this time, that's just not the case," said Leslie Earhart, spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"Her parents reported her missing right around 6:30 p.m.," said Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, who added that Summer had been missing for at least an hour before her parents, exhaustive of their own search, called 911.
Sheriff Lawson said Summer lives with her parents and three siblings at their home. Her father does has a criminal history. While he didn’t elaborate, he did say that history is not relevant to the case.
Summer is described by investigators as being 3-feet tall, weighing about 40 pounds, with blonde hair, and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing gray pants and a pink shirt. She is believed to be barefoot and her hair is now shorter than photos released by the TBI. She is believed to have wandered away from her home, but what happened next is anyone’s guess.
"Everybody's a person of interest until we find Summer. The most important thing is we find Summer. That's what it's all about. That's why we're doing the ground searches, aerial searches, and find her is first and foremost," the sheriff said.
"The longer this goes, the more concerned we get," Earhart said. "At this stage, we've received about 50 leads, none have panned out so far."
Anyone who sees Summer is asked to call 911 immediately. Anyone with any information about her whereabouts is asked to call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND or the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office at 423-272-7121.
This story is being reported out of Atlanta
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