HAMPDEN – Nearly five hours after he walked away from a group home, a diabetic man was found Monday in the woods, conscious but in a tenuous state.
Timothy Hess, 43, earlier that morning walked away from an assisted living care facility on Hampden Woods Road. The man appeared to be in a severe diabetic shock when found.
“When he was located, he was immobile” lying on the ground, acting Lt. Doug Tibbetts of the Maine Warden Service said Monday afternoon.
“His condition was deteriorating rapidly,” Tibbetts told reporters after Hess was found about 1:15 p.m. Left much longer in the woods alone without medical attention, Hess likely wouldn’t have lasted long, wardens said.
“He probably wouldn’t have made it,” Sgt. Tim Liscomb of the Maine Warden Service said later Monday afternoon.
Emergency medical personnel gave Hess insulin after they found him. After stabilizing him, rescuers carried Hess about 40 yards out of the woods and into an ambulance waiting on Route 69 to take him to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
As of late Monday afternoon, Hess was still being evaluated at the Bangor hospital, a nursing supervisor said.
Hess, who also has a brain injury, was found about three-quarters of a mile from the assisted living center just as additional resources – dogs and searchers – were arriving at the Neally’s Corner Church on Kennebec Road.
The church was closed, but the site was turned into an operational center for the search effort that included wardens, Hampden Police and Fire departments, the state police, as well as Dirigo Search and Rescue and Maine Search and Rescue dogs. The Maine Warden Service had an airplane circling the area, trying to spot any sign of the man.
In light of Hess’ diabetes, searchers were racing against the clock to find him.
Searchers combed the area near the group home where Hess has been living and from where he walked away about 8:30 a.m. All available Hampden firefighters were called in – some who were off-duty – to help find the man, Hampden police Sgt. Dan Stewart said.
They went to local homes to see whether the missing man had been seen, and they checked to see whether he had sought refuge in the homes or in automobiles.
“Our entire fire department was going door to door to see if he might have curled up in a car or somewhere else,” Stewart said early Monday afternoon.
Authorities quickly called for a search dog, and searchers on foot held off searching the fields by the group home to prevent contamination of the scene, Stewart said. Maine State Police Trooper Seth Edwards, his dog Boris and a paramedic searched the fields and wooded area in the morning, essentially clearing that area and allowing searchers to focus on other areas.
Hess was found in the woods off Route 69 between the Winterport town line and Gould’s Garage, on the other side of the road from the garage.
That was near where motorist Dana Smith, 43, had seen a man walking earlier in the morning.
Smith said she was taking her daughter to Winterport about 8:45 a.m. when she saw a man walking on Route 69 headed in the same direction. Smith, who lives down the street from the group home, saw him again as she was returning home about 9:10 a.m., she said.
It wasn’t until later, when she noticed the ambulances, wardens and police at the group home that she went to investigate, providing police with important information, that the missing man had been on Route 69. Another person contacted authorities after seeing a picture of Hess on a noontime television broadcast, wardens said.
“We’re getting some sightings,” Warden Kevin Adam said at 12:20 p.m.
Warden Dan Scott met with Smith in the area she had last seen Hess and, with his canine Roxie, tracked Hess from the road into the woods, about a quarter-mile from where Smith had seen Hess.
Scott and the dog then found the missing man on the ground.