ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tennessee (WJHL) – A 65-year-old from Carter County has been missing since last Thursday, but local police have not issued a Silver Alert.
Tom Hastings wandered away from his residence on Laurel Highlands Road between Thursday evening and Friday morning. Hastings has dementia.
Cythia Hollis, Hastings’ wife and caretaker, last saw him when she put him to bed on Thursday. She believes he wandered out her back door because he was not tracked by her front security camera.
A search party organized by the family took place on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to around 3:30 a.m. They found no trace of Hastings in the woods around the house.
“They searched all the way from here to the freeway and couldn’t find a shoe, piece of cloth or anything,” said Hastings’ sister, Kathy Maly.
Maly and her husband Joe arrived in Roan Mountain shortly after Hastings disappeared.
The Carter County Sheriff’s Office provided two blood dogs and a volunteer brought a German Shepherd to search Thursday, but no odor was found.
Bloodhounds and community members help find Thomas Hastings
“We were hoping that we would find him today, but we are very grateful for all the people who came and helped us,” said Maly.
But the family does not give up hope. Maly has published leaflets showing Hastings’ description and a picture of the area.
The family says the Carter County Sheriff’s Office notified them that the Hastings missing person case was on the National Crime Information Center’s database, but the sheriff’s office did not issue a Silver Alert.
Silver Alerts are new to Tennessee. The law allowing authorities to solicit them from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation went into effect July 1. TBI confirmed they had not received one from the Carter County Sheriff.
The law states that any missing person aged 60 and over, with a documented case of dementia, or with a physical or mental disability is eligible for a Silver Alert.
Law enforcement agencies are required by law to “notify the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within four hours of receiving notification of the missing citizen.”
They believe that one needs to be on display so more people can look for Hastings.
“Any exposure he misses is always an advantage in finding Tom,” said Joe Maly.
Alzheimer’s and dementia patient advocate Tracey Wilson, Alzheimer’s Tennessee regional director for the Northeast, said it was important not to blame the family in these situations.
“I’ve seen a lot of mistakes [in these types of cases] imposed on the family, ”said Wilson. “It is unreasonable to expect one person to stay with another person 24 hours a day.”
Wilson said that running away is a common trait in people with dementia.
Thomas Hastings was last spotted near Laurel Highlands Road on July 1st wearing a gray NC State sweatshirt and sweatpants.
Hastings’ description is below:
- Height: ~ 6 feet
- Weight: ~ 200 pounds
- Blue eyes
- Hair: gray
Anyone with information regarding Hastings’ location is urged to call 911.