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Officials, volunteers search for missing man

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By Alice Du Pont

The search for a Gretna man, Garrett Hughes, continued Monday, Jan 7. The 72-year-old man was last seen around 3 a.m. Jan. 5 walking along Williams Street in Gretna.

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“We’ll keep searching until we find him or we become exhausted,” said Gretna’s Interim police chief, Carlos Del La Cruz.
He was last seen wearing a black-and-red checkered flannel shirt, blue jeans, black hat and beige top coat. He is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs 166 pounds.

More than 60 officers from 16 agencies in the region joined the search for Garrett. In addition to the ground search, which included several K-9 units, three helicopters searched from the air. Relatives and local volunteers also searched from the backs of pickup trucks, on personal ATVs or simply walked their own property, looking for the man who seems to have vanished into thin air.

Hughes was known to take walks each morning and evening as a part of his daily exercise routine.

“He walked to the BP store in Douglas City, stopped at the Dollar General and back home,” said his sister, Retha Hughes-Williams.

Hughes is the oldest of nine children and lives alone. In recent months, his memory has not been as good as in the past, but family members were not worried because “he always came back home.”

“One of the offices saw him walking before he was reported missing, and he was acting strange to her. His son went over Saturday morning to take him breakfast, but he wasn’t home. So they looked for him in the neighborhood, and when they couldn’t find him, we reported him missing,” Hughes-Williams said.

Searchers and family worry about the nighttime temperatures.

“This is the second night he’s been out there,” said Del La Cruz, checking the temperature.

The low temperature Sunday night was around 38 degrees while the low Monday night was around 46 degrees.
“My brother was in good health, no hypertension; his blood sugar was good. The doctor said he was fine physically,” Hughes-Williams said.

The family says he can’t live alone anymore and they will seek alternative living arrangements when he returns.

Anyone with information on Hughes’ whereabouts is asked to call the Gretna Police Department at 850-856-9460 or Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office at 850-627-9233.