May 23, 2018
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Union man found safe after 19-hour search

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

UNION, Maine — A 75-year-old local man was found alive Wednesday morning after an overnight search in the Union-Warren area.

Gerald Brooks, who was reported missing about 4 p.m. Tuesday and has Alzheimer’s disease, was found by two surveyors working off Hart Road in Warren at about 10 a.m. Wednesday. They indicated he was in “good spirits.”

The Maine Warden Service said 130 people on the ground looked for the man, along with two airplanes, one of which was equipped with a thermal imaging camera.

About 11 a.m. Tuesday, Brooks, as he usually does, left a note for his wife, Mildred Brooks, telling her where he would be and when he would come home.

When she came home about three hours after he left the note, her husband was still gone and she reported him missing.

Mildred Brooks was terrified.

“It was awful,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “I worried about him all night freezing to death.”

Frost covered car windows in the area overnight Tuesday, a search and rescue volunteer said.

Around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, the warden service bumped up the search from K-9 search crews and on-foot searchers to include two airplanes, which swept the area.

Harvey King of Searsmont, assistant director of Waldo County Search and Rescue, was asked late Tuesday night to get his team together and start looking.

“We searched during the night which is real unusual, but they were afraid he may have been hit by a car,” King said Wednesday. “We stayed until early this morning, covering quite a few miles of road and power lines.”

King has volunteered for his local search and rescue program for 25 years, and this was one of the only night searches Waldo Search and Rescue has been asked to help with.

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, the men in Warren, who were surveying land at the time, found Brooks.

“It was where he used to go in his hunting days,” Mildred Brooks said. “He seemed to be in pretty good spirits, but a little belligerent because they started asking him questions and he thought they were going to take him to jail. That upset him.”

Dawn Crittenden, an EMT with the Union Fire Department, inspected Brooks. She said Wednesday that Brooks was at risk for frostbite, hypothermia or anxiety, but found no signs of those maladies.

“He seems to be in very good medical health,” Crittenden said. “He is at home safe with his family and everything seems to be fine. We were a little surprised; we thought he would be worse off. He didn’t even want to sit down.”

According to Mildred Brooks, her husband had five ticks on him and had fallen during his trip, bruising a leg. She said she planned to take him to a veterans hospital for a more thorough medical check Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoon she was trying to get him to eat and take a nap.

Helping in the search were the Hope Fire Department, Knox County Emergency Management Agency, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, wardens, volunteers and dogs from Maine Search and Rescue, Union Fire Department and Waldo County, Lincoln County and midcoast search and rescue agencies.

The warden service did not have an approximate cost of the search Wednesday evening.

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