ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — A missing Roan Mountain man was found dead Saturday at 9:45 a.m. following a weekslong search.
Searchers with the Carter County Rescue Squad found the body of 65-year-old Thomas Hastings in a creek within several hundred yards of his residence on Laurel Highlands Road.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said although Hastings’ body was found within close proximity to his home, the rough terrain and laurel undergrowth complicated the search.
A member of the Carter County Rescue Squad said searchers struggled in the area due to sudden drop-offs and uneven grounds.
“It was a very very steep, rugged area,” said Rescue Lt. James Heaton. “Very hard to get to and had been overlooked by searchers over the course of the last week..
“The area that he was located in was an area we had determined by looking at maps as being a high probability area. So, we went back to that area today and did a much more thorough search of the area, and that’s where we located him at.”
Hastings was reported missing by his daughter and was last seen on July 1.
According to his family, Hastings had dementia and would often wander off.
Lunceford said the department offers a free service to help families keep track of loved ones.
“If you have a family member that is elderly and has any form of mental incapacitation or if you have a child with any kind of mental incapacitation that may wander, please come and see us,” he said. “We have the ability at the sheriff’s office to put a bracelet on these individuals. We do it at our cost. It doesn’t cost the family anything.
“We maintain the batteries, the equipment. We change the batteries out, put fresh batteries in it. Please come and see us so that this doesn’t happen again.”
No foul play is suspected. Investigators believe the death was accidental but will await autopsy results.
The body will be sent to the Quillen college of Medicine’s Forensic Center.
The Carter County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the case.