AMBER Alert: Search continues for missing 5-year-old Summer Wells
Sheriff’s Office officials are asking for help in locating her.
ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The search continues Monday for missing 5-year-old Summer Wells.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Wednesday issued a statewide AMBER Alert for the missing 5-year-old girl who was at the center of an Endangered Child Alert out of Hawkins County.
Authorities say they only issue an AMBER Alert when they believe a child is in danger of bodily harm or death.
The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to WVLT News that Summer Moon-Utah Wells went missing Tuesday night.
TBI investigators said some circumstances around the child’s disappearance remain unclear. The child was reported missing by her parents around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Officials said the exact time the child was last seen varies due to the family’s own search efforts. Investigators said the longer the search continues, the more concerned they get.
“The longer this goes the more concerned we get,” Leslie Earhart with TBI said.
Authorities said they have received approximately 50 leads so far, however, none of them have panned out.
“Everybody is a person of interest until we find Summer,” Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said. “The most important thing is we find Summer.”
When asked if Summer could have been abducted, Sheriff Lawson said, “everything is on the table.”
“We’re looking at everything, crossing every T, dotting every I and turning every stone,” Lawson said.
The sheriff is asking members of the community to check their properties and any trail camera footage they have to see if Summer may have been in the area. He said the child is only 5-years-old.
There are currently nearly 100 trained professionals who are a part of the ground search crew. Arial aviation search crews, medical THP and TBI, multiple drones and four different K9 units are also being utilized in the search. The crews said they conclude their searches every night at 8 p.m., but If they receive any phone calls with a credible lead they do follow up on leads throughout the night.
TBI officials said they don’t need any civilians to help in the search as of now. Due to the terrain in the area, only trained professionals are needed at this time.
Numerous local, state and federal agencies have joined in on the search for the missing child. Teams were briefed Thursday morning and resumed the ground search in the area around Ben Hill Road. Officials said ground search crews have currently covered a one-mile area from the home and plan to cover two miles by the end of the day Thursday.
One concern officials have is the “steep and dangerous terrain” in the area. Officials said the terrain has caused search efforts to be “very difficult.” The terrain causes search crews to take extra time to cover the area adequately which causes crew members to become exhausted quicker, according to officials.
Search crews have also experienced numerous issues with communication. Officials said radio communication between ground and aerial aviation crews has been difficult. Ground crews have been using four to six radio channels to effectively communicate.
AT&T and Verizon have both brought cell phone service boosters to the command post to help utilize cell phone coverage which has been “spotty” for most of the area.
Summer Wells has short blonde hair and was last seen wearing grey pants and a pink shirt near her home on Ben Hill road, officials said. She has been missing since 7 p.m. Tuesday.
TBI officials said Summer Wells may now have shorter hair than that pictured in earlier alerts.
The girl was last seen in the Beech Creek community. Nineteen different agencies are assisting with the search, officials said. Tennessee Highway Patrol officials said they are using aircraft to assist in the search. Agencies participating in the search also said the dense terrain and lack of cell service has caused trouble in the search.
Anyone with any information are asked to call 911 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
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