August 11th, 2017— 18 year-old Austin Bohanan was searching for Ginseng, a medicinal root, with his stepfather in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when he found himself separated and lost.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Austin scaled a ridge and attempted to call his mother soon after, with no luck, and wound up sleeping there for his first night. He woke up and followed a creek in hopes of gaining some ground for “two to three days,” but realized that he must have gone in the wrong direction.
After his second night out, Bohanan was reported missing on August 13th. The park’s search and rescue unit, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue Team all surveyed surrounding areas for the teen.
At one point, Austin tried to flag down a search helicopter, but it did not spot him through the dense foliage.
On August 22, his 11th day in the wilderness, surviving on nothing but water, the teen spotted a boat in a nearby creek, and earned himself a ride back to his anxiously awaiting family.
There could be potential charges for attempting to harvest Ginseng from a national park, but the chief ranger is delaying them for now.
Read the full story and watch the press conference from the Knoxville News Sentinel.