Grandfather of missing Gatlinburg family heads to Tennessee to help with search

(Courtesy: Michael Reed via WATE)
(Courtesy: Michael Reed via WATE)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As the death toll climbs from the Sevier County wildfire, the Reed family held their breath waiting for word from authorities.

On Thursday, before the death toll rose to 13 on Friday, officials said the seven people found dead were adults, which was a huge relief for the family who are missing two girls and their mom.

“My heart and my head are in a race with each other. My heart is we’re going to find them, we’re going to find them… My head is saying it’s been since Monday,” said the grandfather of the missing Gatlinburg family, Grant Reed.

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Reed and his family packed their bags and headed to Gatlinburg to join the search. On Monday, his two granddaughters— 9 year old Lily and 12 year old Chloe— along with their mother, went missing after the Tennessee wildfires destroyed their home.

He said it’s been a roller coaster of emotions over the past 72 hours.

“We had a few seconds where we had an up yesterday because at the press conference they said they had rescued three people,” Reed said.

But the three were not his daughter-in-law and grand kids.

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“We hold one to that hope, but it’s human nature just to wrestle constantly with what are you going to do if it’s good, what are you going to do if it’s bad,” Reed said. “Time has really slowed down. We’re waiting for answers and every minute takes an hour and it’s wearing on us. It’s too much for me, too.”

Reed headed to Gatlinburg because he said his son and grandson need him.

“He needs us there. He has nobody there other than co-workers and that can only take you but so far,” Reed explained. “If it is bad, I pray that I’m with him when hears that, because he’s not going to accept it.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up by their co-workers to help the family regroup from the devastating wildfires.

Click here for continuing coverage of the Sevier County wildfire.