"We've Exhausted Our Leads"
The local search and rescue teams and the Sheriff’s department posse are packing up and heading home after searching for two days for Robert Firestone, an elderly man. “We’ve done a really thorough search but patients with dementia don’t follow a set pattern,” says Diana Totten a member of Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue. “We’ve walked every stretch of road from Dean Creek to Benbow….They’ve brought in helicopter and boat to look everywhere….We’ve exhausted our leads.” But then she added that she personally was still looking as of 4:30 this afternoon in the Kimtu area.
Totten says that the hope is that Mr. Firestone has “caught a ride with someone…He has gotten in cars with people before and just rode off.” He does have identification as his wallet is missing, too. The Sheriff’s Dept is expanding their search by notifying police and hospitals through out the North Coast so that they can be actively looking for him outside of the immediate area.
Most of the searchers have been trained volunteers and although they haven’t given up, they don’t feel that more ground searching in the local area is likely to be effective. Totten says the crews are disappointed in some ways. “It’s like going on a Easter Egg hunt and coming back with nothing in your basket…” She pauses, then adds quietly, “On the other hand , we didn’t find a body and that’s a good thing.” The hope that Mr. Firestone has hitchhiked to another area is strong so posters and internet connections are being utilized to get the word out. “We haven’t given up,” Totten says. “We’ve just moved on to a more extensive type of search.”
Photo by Rebecca McFarland