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Ohio man missing in Patrick County
Ernest Gay Brooker Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been reported missing after his vehicle was discovered in Patrick County.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Local, federal and state authorities, along with eight search and rescue teams and three dogs, scoured a recreational area in Patrick County over the weekend, in hopes of finding a missing 66-year-old Ohio man.
Ernest Gay Brooker, Jr., 66, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was first seen in Patrick County on April 14, according to Patrick County Sheriff's Capt. Ward Stone.
Brooker checked into a local motel, where he stayed four days, and checked out on April 18, Stone said.
A park ranger first saw Brooker's 1985 white Chevrolet Celebrity parked at the intersection of Rock Church and Willis roads, on the border of the Rock Castle Gorge Recreation area that same day, Stone said.
The ranger ran the tag number on the vehicle and everything "came back okay," Stone said. The site is a common place for outdoor enthusiasts to park, he added.
The ranger drove back through the area Thursday and saw the vehicle parked in what looked to be the same spot, Stone said. The park ranger then contacted the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). Authorities believed "they had a lost person," Stone said.
The state department contacted search and rescue teams in the western half of the state, Stone said. Patrick authorities also were notified, he added.
Three dogs and eight search and rescue teams began scouring the area Friday morning, Stone said. The search continued Saturday.
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said he asked tactical teams with the Virginia State Police to help with the search.
The search Friday ended at dark, but searchers were back out early Saturday, Stone said.
Patrick authorities also are working with the Cincinnati Police Department to "try and find Mr. Brooker's relatives and friends," Stone said.
Ohio authorities went to Brooker's apartment and talked to neighbors. They "did not realize Mr. Brooker was gone," Stone said, and added neighbors described Brooker as a loner.
Brooker moved into the apartment complex about a year ago," shortly after his wife died, the captain added.
While in Patrick County, Stone said Brooker told one person that his father took him to Rock Castle Creek when he was younger. Brooker told that person he had never forgotten that trip.
"He said he thought it was a beautiful area and wanted to come back and see it again," Stone said.
Brooker also told that person he had no children, Stone added.
He is described as a white male, who weighs about 175 pounds, and is between 5-feet, 9-inches and 6-feet in height. He has hazel colored eyes and white hair, Stone said.
Both Smith and Stone urged anyone with any information on Brooker's whereabouts to call the Patrick County Sheriff's Office at 694-3161.