HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Michael Fontana has spent the last 10 days living in the center of the search for missing Hawkins County 5 year-old Summer Wells.
He lives just 1.7 miles away from the residence where Summer disappeared from. He can almost see the Mount Carmel church where investigators and search crews have set up central operations.
Fontana said this has been a hectic, unusual week for the Beech Creek community.
“Maybe 20 cars a day our house, now it’s all day, all night,” he said. “You have 40, 50, sometimes 100 police cars. You have helicopters flying around all the time.”
Just as the long search has frustrated authorities, it has done the same for members of the community waiting for answers as to what happened to Summer Wells.
Fontana says he would join the search if he could, but he and Beech Creek will do “anything we can as a community to help them.”
That means doing what Hawkins County Sheriff has told residents of Beech Creek, Hawkins and Sullivan Counties has advised for several days now: searching their properties anywhere a small child could hide.
“We’ve searched the entire property every day,” Fontana said. “Even last night, we went through and searched our property. We have found nothing yet.”
Fontana and his family have also done what they can to support personnel at the nearby command center.
“We got 20 bags of ice for them the other day,” Fontana said. “We asked them if they wanted any food, and they told us no because the whole community, pretty much, brought them food.”
The impact of Summer’s disappearance is being felt across the Tri-Cities, even 50 miles away in Bristol, Tennessee. Lindsey Carter is trying to bring awareness and hope to Summer’s cause by encouraging people to install purple lights outside their homes.
She ran a similar campaign during the Evelyn Boswell case.
“This is something that we can do to show our support throughout our community,” Carter said. “We did it as a beacon of hope, so she could see that everybody was praying because we knew nobody could go searching for her, kind of like Summer.”