Crews search for missing Clay County man

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LESLIE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A clay county man is still missing after an ATV ride into the Red Bird area of Leslie County.

Close friends of 49-year-old, Earl Smith noticed he was missing when he never returned from a ride on the trails.

The Big Creek Fire and Rescue team, Red Bird fire department, and the Clay County Emergency Management team searched from around 8:00 p.m. Saturday night to nearly 4:00 Sunday morning. Volunteers resumed searching several hours later.

Smith’s friends say he came into the Red Bird Management area on a four-wheeler.

“He left yesterday about 10:00 a.m. didn't come back yesterday evening at 5:30 p.m.; so they got worried and they came looking for him, and he’s not showed up since,” said friend of Smith Larry Smith.

Multiple search and rescue crews have now joined the search. Friends and Volunteers covered miles of trails by ATVs and horseback

“We've just been riding mostly where a four-wheeler can't get. We're looking for his four-wheeler. If we can find the four-wheeler, we can probably find him, but we've not found the 4-wheeler,” said Larry.

Officials say Smith had no health problems or reasons to not come home.

Smith’s friends say they are certain he is not lost because he knows these trails so well, but that leaves them to question exactly what might have happened.

“Either a four-wheeler wreck, or he's been sick or something or maybe he's hurt on the four-wheeler,” said Larry.

Officials admit the search has not been easy.

“He knows these hills and these woods in this management area very, very well, and is in here a lot. So that's another thing that makes this a hard search, because he may not be on a known trail,” said Director of Clay County Emergency Management, David Watson.

They hope that what brought him in can soon bring him out.

No one was able to provide a picture of Smith on Sunday.

Officials stopped searching tonight when the sun went down. They say they will widen the search Monday, but with fewer people.

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