Robert Trent was walking his children to the bus stop Wednesday morning when he noticed another man walking down the road. He instantly recognized him as a Havelock man who had been missing for more than 24 hours.
“I always pay attention to the news, and the city of Havelock had it all over their Facebook page,” Trent said.
The search for Steven Daniel Tompkins, 28, of Havelock, ended when Trent noticed him shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday on South Forest Drive.
“I started talking to him and gave him some water,” Trent said of Tompkins, the subject of a statewide silver alert on Tuesday. “He said he had slept in his car all night, but we know that’s not right.”
Trent, a Cherry Point Marine, notified a passerby to contact authorities, who arrived along with rescue personnel. Diane Miller, city spokeswoman, said Tompkins had bug bites and was suffering from dehydration but was otherwise OK. Tompkins was taken to CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern for observation.
Tompkins was reported missing early Tuesday morning. A statewide silver alert was issued later in the morning for the man who is believed to suffer from some form of dementia or other cognitive impairment, according to information from the N.C. Center for Missing Persons.
Authorities had located Tompkins’ 2003 Nissan Maxima on Tuesday morning parked on the side of Railroad Street in Havelock with the keys still in the ignition, Miller said. The location is near a wooded area that is part of the Croatan National Forest.
Havelock police and Havelock Fire and Rescue personnel used four-wheel ATVs to look for Tompkins on Tuesday along clear lines and a trail in the forest. Morehead City police tracking dogs assisted, as did personnel aboard the Pedro search and rescue helicopter from Cherry Point.
The city also received help in the search from the Newport Police Department, the North Carolina Highway Patrol aviation unit and area troopers, Craven County Sheriff’s Office and Carteret County Sheriff’s Office. The Cherry Point base mobile command center was also sent to the scene at the intersection of Creek Drive and Railroad Street.
Authorities searched until about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and were returning to the area Wednesday morning to continue the search when Trent spotted the man.
"I'm very appreciative of those residents in the area who assisted us and to all the law enforcement and firefighters who responded to the mutual aid call for assistance," said Havelock Police Chief G. Wayne Cyrus.