Fulfilling a promise he made in late summer, Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong today resumed the backcountry search for Michael Hearon, who disappeared without a trace from a family home in the Happy Valley community.
Berrong said in late August, when he terminated a week-long search that involved hundreds of emergency workers and volunteers, that he had promised the Hearon family the forested land would be scoured again when the foliage was off the trees and bushes.
Emergency personnel resumed the search this morning. No volunteers were called on to participate.
Hearon, 51, disappeared Aug. 23, during a not-unusual Saturday visit to his family home on Bell Branch Road. He was seen riding an ATV down the road away from the home by neighbors that morning but had not been seen or heard from since.
His truck, with a trailer bearing a mower attached, was found at the home, and his wallet, keys, cash and cell phone were on the seat.
The ATV was found several hundred yards back in the woods on some property Hearon owns about a mile from the home. Beyond that, nothing was ever found to indicate Hearon was there or had been there. Track dogs, cadaver dogs, a helicopter and mounted riders all joined searchers on foot to try to rescue the man or find his remains. Neither was found.