I’ve struggled since Wednesday whether to publicize the disappearance of elderly Alzheimer’s disease afflicted Hancock County resident Ward Buel here on slabbed but an email from a client finally tipped the decision to link the Sun Herald article. When Ward was working for another of my clients I had the opportunity to get to know him. Pre-Alzheimer’s he was a gifted project manager who could estimate and tackle the most complicated infrastructure or site prep jobs. He was completely devoted to his wife of many years and is a great human being.
I hope our readers will help his family publicize Ward’s disappearance so that we can get him back home.
Rescuers wound down an exhaustive but fruitless search Thursday for an 86-year-old man who has been missing from his Diamondhead home since last weekend.
The search for Ward C. Buel, who disappeared Saturday, began about 9 a.m. Wednesday and ran until that evening, then was briefly reopened and concluded Thursday morning. Searchers found no sign of the man, who reportedly suffers memory losses related to Alzheimer’s disease.
“In 30 years I’ve been in law enforcement, this is one of the most thorough searches I have ever been involved with,” said search coordinator Maj. Matt Karl, commander of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department drug enforcement division and SWAT team.
Still, the results were disappointing. “We’re grasping at straws here,” Karl said. “If he’s out there, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Buel was last seen wearing tan slacks, a print shirt, tennis shoes and a hat bearing an Ace Hardware logo. He is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds.
However, hopes remain that Buel is still alive, and officials continued to receive reports from people who saw men matching his description.
“We have gotten sightings, and some seem very credible,” said sheriff’s investigator Rita Blaize Watson. Reports have come from areas around Diamondhead and Mississippi 53, she said.
Family members told authorities Buel, a widower, often walks long distances and would sometimes get rides into Bay St. Louis. He would occasionally stay gone from home for several hours at a time, but had never stayed away all night, Karl said.
Buel was a frequent visitor to the Diamondhead Waffle House. He was last seen in a swimming pool area off Kapalama Drive.
Searchers covered the entire Diamondhead residential area. “We covered every street. Some people even went from house to house, handing out fliers,” Karl said.
Diamondhead has many miles of streets and about 9,000 residents. Six all-terrain vehicles and two cadaver-sniffing dogs were used to comb fields and wooded areas around Interstate 10 and from Diamondhead north to Rotten Bayou.
“We didn’t leave a leaf unturned up there,” Karl said.
Despite his memory problems, Buel reportedly fared well on a recent physical examination. “He was in pretty good shape. He just up and went,” Karl said.
Searchers included seven officers from the sheriff’s SWAT team and narcotics division, along with 10 road deputies. Others participating were members of Diamondhead’s fire department and private security force, volunteers with Gulf Coast Search and Rescue, and several members of the Bay St. Louis Police Department.
Anyone with information on Buel is asked to call 466-9000 or 255-9191.
We have a related post here.