Great Smoky Mountains Rangers Find University of Tennessee Student Dead in National Park

by Jon D. B.

The Knoxville, TN native was both an Eagle Scout and member of the National Guard before his death in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tragedy marks the ending of a missing UT student, who was found in a remote area of the national park. The body of 23-year-old Tennessee National Guard and Eagle Scout alum Bryce Evans was located in a remote Smokies area near Balsam Mountain, North Carolina on Friday, August 5, 2022.

Evans was first reported missing to his local Knoxville Police Department on Monday, August 1. At the time, a spokesperson said Bryce’s relative had not heard from him since July 31, 2022. His last contact to family was made around 1:00 PM that day.

At the time, he told his sister he was “going to work out at the TRECS Gym at UTK and he may drive to Charlotte afterward,” a KPD spokesperson told Knoxville’s WVLT. But after checking the gym, Evans’ card had not been used. He also did not show up for his internship at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the outlet reports.

According to KPD’s lead investigator, Evan’s phone last pinged near Cherokee, NC. As search and rescue was initiated, GRSM officials found the student’s Grey Nissan Altima (Tennessee tag 4LO-8L5) on Thursday night. It sat unattended at the Balsam Mountain Trailhead near Pin Oak Gap on Heintooga Ridge Road.

Park rangers would close the area, locating his body on Friday, Aug. 5. “Emergency responders from the National Park Service and Cherokee Police, Fire, and Emergency Management Services assisted in a comprehensive search of the area,” the park cites in their media release to Outsider.

“Within a few hours, emergency responders found Evans about 20 yards off trail, approximately one and a half miles from the Balsam Mountain Trailhead parking area, at approximately 11:15 a.m.,” the statement reads.

He was only one and a half miles from his vehicle at his time of death.

Extensive social media outreach by citizens of Bryce’s hometown, Knoxville, took place in the lead-up to his death. His sister, Analiese Evans, would prove instrumental in the locating of his body.

“My brother Bryce has been missing since Sunday,” she posted to social media earlier this week. “No one has seen or heard from him since 1 PM on the 31st. His phone has been turned off. He was on his way back to Charlotte, NC, from Knoxville. His last known location was the area around Cherokee, NC,” she continued.

“He is 6’3″ and 185 pounds. Please if you know anything or have seen/talked to him reach out to me or my family,” she concluded her post with photos of her brother.

No additional details on Bryce’s death are available at this time. Outsider sends our sincerest condolences to the Evans family and the Knoxville community. And thank you, as always, to the incredible Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff for their tremendous work.