ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Carter County 65-year-old has been missing since last Thursday, but a Silver Alert has not been issued by local law enforcement.
Tom Hastings wandered off from his residence on Laurel Highlands Road between Thursday night and Friday morning. Hastings suffers from dementia.
Cythia Hollis, Hastings’ wife and caretaker, last saw him when she put him to bed Thursday. She believes he wandered out their back door because he was not captured on their security camera in the front.
A family-organized search party took place from 8 a.m. to around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. They found no trace of Hastings in the woods surrounding the home.
“They searched all the way from here to the highway and were not able to find a shoe, a piece of cloth or anything,” said Hastings’ sister Kathy Maly.
Maly and her husband Joe arrived in Roan Mountain shortly after Hastings’ disappearance.
The Carter County Sheriff’s Office provided two bloodhounds and a volunteer brought a German Shepard to Thursday’s search, but no scent was found.
“We were hoping that we would find him today, but we are very grateful for all the people that came and helped us,” Maly said.
The family is not giving up hope, though. Maly has been posting flyers showing Hastings’ description and picture around the area.
The family says the Carter County Sheriff’s Office told them Hastings’ missing persons case had been in the National Crime Information Center database, but the sheriff’s office had not issued a Silver Alert.
Silver Alerts are new to Tennessee. The law that allows agencies to request them from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation went into effect on July 1. TBI confirmed they had not received one from the Carter County sheriff.
The law states that any missing individual 60 years or older, with a documented case of dementia or with a physical or mental disability is eligible for a Silver Alert.
Law enforcement agencies must “notify the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within four hours of receiving the notice of the missing citizen,” according to the law.
They believe one needs to be issued so more people can be on the look-out for Hastings.
“Any exposure that he’s missing is always beneficial in finding Tom,” Joe Maly said.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients advocate Tracey Wilson, Northeast regional director of Alzheimer’s Tennessee, said it’s important to not place blame on the family in these situations.
“I’ve seen a lot of fault [in these types of cases] being put on the family,” Wilson said. “It is not reasonable for any person to stay with another person 24 hours a day.”
Wilson said wandering off is a common trait among individuals with dementia.
Thomas Hastings was last seen near Laurel Highlands Road on July 1 wearing a grey NC State sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.
Hastings’ description is below:
- Height: ~6 feet
- Weight: ~200 pounds
- Eyes: Blue
- Hair: Grey
Anyone with information regarding Hastings’ location is urged to call 911.