Missing autistic teenage boy found safe after hours-long search in Tyler State Park

Local News

UPDATE (1:05 A.M.) – Kevin Wickliffe has been found safe after a massive, hours-long search by multiple agencies. He went missing in Tyler State Park with his family Sunday evening on the hiking trails just after 5:30 p.m.

According to officials, he was found on CR 35 north of I-20. Kevin had no injuries and was only dehydrated.

Battalion Chief David Gerald said that Kevin was found by a volunteer roughly a half-mile from where the command post was set up.

EMS workers are currently evaluating him on the scene.

Sgt. Larry Christian with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office praised the “fantastic effort by all who assisted in the safe return of this young man.

“The outpouring of care and compassion from the community was amazing and very much appreciated,” Christian said.


SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A massive search is underway for an autistic teenage boy lost in Tyler State Park.

Kevin Wickliffe, 17, was last seen just before 6 p.m. while hiking park trails with his family.

He is a white male, 6′, and was wearing a turquoise short sleeve shirt and blue jeans with red and black tennis shoes.

He has been confirmed as non-verbal.

“He is not afraid of people, but he is easily startled,” said David Gerald, Smith County Emergency Services Division #2 Battalion Chief.

Agencies joining the search include the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Smith County ESD, game wardens, park police, Red Springs Volunteer Fire Department, the DPS air unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and various law enforcement, search and rescue, and K-9 units.

Tyler State Park comprises more than 1,000 acres.

Volunteers have also poured into help in such numbers that by 10:30 p.m. officials had said no more would be allowed in lest they interfere with the dogs searching the park.

Officials will open the search to a new shift of volunteers at 8 a.m. Monday. Gerald said anyone coming to help needs to bring their own equipment, such as flashlight, weather gear, hiking boots, and snacks.

He also advised that anyone who gets lost while hiking should stay where they are or backtrack their route. If you come to a road, stay put.

Anyone with any information or who may have seen the teenager is urged to call the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at 903-590-2661.

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