A 16-year-old girl from Washington, D.C., disappeared almost a week ago while hiking on a school trip to Tennessee, family members said.
Ava Zechiel was hiking in Cherokee National Forest in northeast Tennessee when she became separated from other students from her boarding school around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to her father, Howard Zechiel.
Johnson County police, with help from the FBI, have searched for Zechiel by land and air, NBC affiliate WCYB in Bristol, Virginia, reported. Volunteer search crews also have helped.
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"It's every parent's worst nightmare," Howard Zechiel, told the television station. "You see these stories on the news, but you see also the throngs of people that come out to help. We're relieved to see that's happened here and hopeful that one of them will find our girl."
Zechiel stands 5-foot-3, weighs about 200 pounds and has brown hair, officials told WCYB. She was last seen wearing an orange vest, a green fleece and brown hiking pants. She was not carrying a cell phone, her father said.
The terrain in the national forest is rugged and dangerous in parts, an investigator told NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Zechiel is a student at Freedom Mountain Academy, a wilderness-oriented boarding school for teenagers, the TV stations reported.