Missing Elderly Man Returns Home Safely

January 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

An 82 year old man who apparently wandered away from home in the Blue Springs area shortly after noon today (Thursday) after visiting a neighbor returned home safely just before dark.

Austin Eugene Underwood, who apparently has Alzheimer's Disease, had not been seen or heard from since around 12:15 p.m. but he emerged from the woods near his home around 5:00 p.m.

He and his wife Evelyn reside at 693 Lassiter Road.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Underwood was cold and appeared to be somewhat confused but other than some scratches where he had been in the woods, he appeared to be okay. First responders from the fire department were on the scene to evaluate his condition.

Underwood, who is about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs approximately 130 pounds, was wearing a black fur hat, a thin blue flannel jacket, and a pair of blue Docker pants and dress shoes when he went missing.

Underwood, a retired minister, apparently left home around noon to go across the road to visit a neighbor. According to the neighbor, Underwood stayed about fifteen minutes and then left to go back home.

Underwood's wife, who was not at home at the time, called the house to check on him around 12:45 p.m. but no one answered the phone.

She returned home and discovered he was gone.

Sheriff Ray says he wants to express his appreciation to all those who helped in the search effort including members of the Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, First Responders from the Fire Department, concerned citizens, friends and family of the Underwoods, and members of the Smithville Church of God, where Underwood and his wife attend church.

Sheriff Ray also wishes to thank the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Unit, who was enroute by helicopter to conduct an aerial search when Underwood returned; local troopers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who conducted a road search; and the Putnam County K-9 and THP STRIKE Unit, who were enroute to help locate Underwood.

In addition, Sheriff Ray would also like to say thanks to the team at Central Dispatch for their help in organizing the search and to constable Mark Milam, who went door to door in the neighborhood, asking residents if they had seen or knew of Underwood's whereabouts.

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