JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – After the highly publicized search for 80-year-old Eugene Marshall, a Kingsport man who suffered from Alzheimers and was missing for almost two months before his body was found, News Channel 11 found out there’s no statewide alert system for missing and endangered senior citizens.
When it comes to missing and endangered children, Amber Alerts are issued statewide, and even nationwide, with a high rate of success.
“As a matter of fact on my phone I’ll get Amber Alerts from all across the nation, they have a great system set up,” Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey told News Channel 11.
But a representative for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says there is no statewide alert system for the elderly.
“Why couldn’t we have something like that set up for seniors?” Ramsey asked.
When it comes to Eugene Marshall, family members said a better alert system may have helped.
“We could have possibly had a different ending to this story, other than the heartbreak the family is and will continue to go through,” said Sherry Hutson, one of Marshall’s relatives.
The TBI said it’s up to each individual jurisdiction to decide how and if they notify the public to be on the lookout for an elderly person who may have wandered away from home.
As for Marshall, the Kingsport Police Department first notified media that he was missing on September 21, three days after he was reported missing by his family.
“If things could have been handled differently from the beginning, and not taken as lightly as it was,” Hutson told us.
Lt. Gov. Ramsey told News Channel 11 he thinks this is an issue the general assembly should take up.
“We see Alzheimer’s becoming more and more prevalent, and dementia becoming more and more prevalent… I can’t imagine anything worse, than having something like this happen to your family, somebody just wander off and not be able to find them,” he said.
Just east of us, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety has a Silver Alert system that issues statewide alerts for missing senior citizens who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and other endangered adults.
“We’d look how other states have done this, and make sure we bring something like that to Tennessee,” Ramsey said.
“He very well could have been found alive. He may have been found sickly, or maybe even injured, but he would have been found alive,” Hutson said.
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