Due to inaccuracies being reported concerning the investigation into the disappearance of Thomas Hastings in the Roan Mountain Community, and subsequent recovery, we would like to take this opportunity to clear up some misinformation which is currently circulating.

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office received a call for service on July 3, 2021 which reported that Thomas Hastings had been missing from his residence on Laurel Highlands Road in Carter County for an undetermined amount of time. This report was initiated by family members in California. Through investigative efforts, we subsequently learned that Mr. Hastings had not been seen since the late afternoon of Thursday, July 1, 2021. Mr. Hastings had already been missing for approximately two days at the time this was reported.

During interviews with family members, we learned that Mr. Hastings was suffering from dementia and had a previous history of wandering away from his home.

Based upon the information received, an extensive search of Mr. Hastings’ residence, property, and the immediate area surrounding was conducted. This search was accomplished with the highly trained resources of the Carter County Emergency Rescue Squad, the Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office and a host of other community volunteers. This search continued until midnight on July 4, 2021 with no results.

It should be noted that during the likely time of Mr. Hastings’ disappearance on the evening of July 1, 2021, the Northeast Tennessee area received heavy rainfall and experienced flooding across many parts of the County. This event caused abnormal rises in the water levels of local creeks, rivers, and streams. At the time of the search which was conducted on July 3, 2021 through July 4, 2021, many of these waters had not yet subsided, including a stream located on Mr. Hastings’ property.

On July 5, 2021, our deputies and investigators again went to the Hastings property with the assistance of tracking dogs from the Tennessee Department of Corrections. The dogs searched the property; however, Mr. Hastings was not located at this time.

During the dates of July 6, 2021 – July 9, 2021, our deputies and investigators, along with other community members and our sister agencies continued the investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Hastings. This investigation was conducted in cooperation with the Hastings family who provided tremendous assistance in the case. This included the location of video footage in the immediate and surrounding areas, as well as further interviews with family members. Multiple leads were investigated due to reports received from community members.

On July 10, 2021, a further search of Mr. Hastings’ property and the surrounding area was conducted. This search included resources from the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, Carter County Emergency Rescue Squad, Carter County Emergency Management Director, and the Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. As a result of this search, the body of Mr. Hastings was recovered by members of the Carter County Rescue Squad beneath a laurel thicket in the stream adjacent to his property. The condition of the body suggests that Mr. Hastings was deceased for some time, and was either partially or totally submerged for the duration of the search. Autopsy results are pending at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

Our agency would like to thank the Carter County Rescue Squad, Carter County Emergency Management Agency, Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and countless community volunteers who assisted in this search.

– Sheriff Dexter Lunceford