Family organizes search party for missing Roan Mountain man


ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — The family of a missing Roan Mountain man has organized a search party for Tuesday, July 6.

According to the Carter County Sheriff Office, 65-year-old Thomas Hastings was last seen near Laurel Highlands Road on July 1 wearing a gray NC State sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.

Hastings has dementia, according to his family.

The search will launch from 245 Laurel Highlands Road at 8 a.m. and will last until sunset, according to the family.

The family said any help is appreciated, but anyone with access to drones, K-9s or four-wheelers would be needed. Carter County search crews looked through the area until midnight on Saturday, but found no evidence of Hastings.

Cynthia Hollis is Tom Hastings’ wife. She said she last saw him on Thursday. When she went to wake him up for breakfast on Friday, he was gone from his bed.

Hollis said he would often go wandering. A security camera video provided by Hollis from Thursday shows Hastings walking on the deck unattended.

“In January, I just ran for 20 minutes to get my haircut,” Hollis said. “I found him at the end of the road.”

Security video did not pick up Hastings leaving through the front, which made Hollis believe he left out the back where there is no camera.

Hollis said she bought the cameras and, just days ago, door alarms to make sure Hastings stayed in the house. The alarms had not arrived by the time Hastings disappeared.

Hollis worried Hastings fell near the property because he has limited mobility.

“He just kind of shuffles and goes very slow,” Hollis said. “He does fall a lot.”

Hastings earned a doctorate at MIT in Boston. The husband and wife came to Roan Mountain hoping to spend more time in nature. But that plan changed when Hastings’ condition started deteriorating over the last two years as he battled dementia.

Hollis was forced to stop working as a nurse to care for Hastings.

Hastings’ sister, Kathy Maly, came from Virginia to help Hollis with the search. Maly said she spent the past couple days putting up posters around the area.

“We’re just really, really worried about him,” Maly said. “We always love him, but it’s not the Tom that we know.”

When the search starts tomorrow, volunteers may have a difficult time due to the terrain and plant life, according to Roan Mountain Volunteer firefighter Brandon Wooten.

“When you get them Laurel bushes, it is steep and it is thick, so it does take a little bit of time to search in circumstances like that,” Wooten said.

Hastings is described as the following:

  • Height: ~6 feet
  • Weight: ~200 pounds
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Grey

Anyone with information regarding Hastings’ location is urged to call 911.

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