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Volunteers needed to assist in ground search for missing elderly man James Gunnels, Jr.

Search to take place on Sunday in Morse
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Posted at 3:05 PM, Feb 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 22:34:19-05

Family and friends are asking for volunteers to help search for a missing man in Acadia Parish.

89-year-old James Gunnels, Jr. was reported missing on February 13 from an assisted living facility in Alexandria.

Family members say he left around 7 a.m. on Thursday to go to Wal-Mart, but didn't return home.

Now, over a week since he went missing, concerned family and friends of Mr. Gunnels, along with Atchafalaya Search and Rescue and Cajun Navy Search and Rescue, are organizing a search party in the area on Sunday, February 23.

Organizers have secured permission from the owner of the property where Mr. Gunnels' truck was found to conduct a grid search in the area and now are putting out a call for volunteers to help search.

Family friend Jaime Smith is one of the organizers, and says they are asking for volunteers with all backgrounds - residents in the area, hunters, trackers, former military and law enforcement, etc.

Those wanting to assist in the search should meet at Blue Jay Road in Morse at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

They are also asking for volunteers to help with refreshments for those searching.

On Friday, February 14, Gunnels' truck was found in Acadia Parish, just off Blue Jay Road in Morse. Louisiana State Police then issued a Silver Alert on behalf of Alexandria Police and the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office.

Previous searches by law enforcement have so far been unsuccessful. APSO utilized canines, drones, and other equipment last weekend in their search; they were assisted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

MORE INFO HERE: SILVER ALERT: Family members asking for help finding man with dementia missing in Acadia Parish

Family members told KATC Gunnels' truck was caught on cameras with license plate readers at least eight times. The last time was around 11:15 a.m. Thursday in Lafayette near Ridge Road and Lagneaux Road.

Mr. Gunnels suffers from dementia and also has diabetes, according to his family.

Anyone with questions or in need of information can contact Jaime Smith at 337-208-8432 or Terrell Bergeron with Atchafalaya Search and Rescue via the group's Facebook page.