ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The wife of a missing man from Rowan County is taking on the state Department of Transportation and its conditions for posting Silver Alerts along the interstate. Jean McCoy’s husband, 66-year-old Rick Travis, has been missing since February 11, and though a Silver Alert was issued, it was never posted to the signs along the interstate.
“It helps working towards something that’s positive. It helps me deal with the loss of Rick," McCoy said.
More than two months ago, marathoner Rick Travis, who has a cognitive impairment, left home for his daily three mile run and he hasn’t been seen since.
“Nothing…so we’re just kind of hoping that he will be found eventually," McCoy added.
Jean says until that happens, she will work for change.
When the Silver Alert was issued about Rick’s disappearance, it never showed up on those sign boards on I-85, and investigators say that’s the last place there was a verified sighting of Travis. There’s even one sign less than a quarter of a mile from where he may have been seen that day.
“If he had been on there, somebody might have remembered something sooner and it might have made a difference for Rick," McCoy added.
It wasn’t posted because DOT has a rule that the alert must involve a vehicle and tag number to be posted on the interstate signs. They apparently never imagined a scenario like the one involving Travis.
For days hundreds of searchers covered miles of ground, but no sign of Travis has been found.
Jean has been writing DOT, the governor, and state, local, and national representatives to see if the system can be changed. She knows it won’t help her, but it could help others.
“If something good comes from it, Rick would like that too…he would.”
State Senator Carl Ford, a Republican representing Rowan County, said on Tuesday that he has been talking with DOT and believes that the change advocated by Jean McCoy will be implemented.
“We’re working with DOT, with the powers that be,” Senator Ford said. “We had a conference all a few days ago and it was really productive. It seems like a no-brainer, at least if it’s a situation that’s anywhere near a major highway.”
McCoy is also talking to local leaders about a voluntary registry that could help find people with dementia.
According to the Mountain Express, such a registry has been put in place by Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake.
In such programs, family members voluntarily register someone with an impairment. They fill out a form and provide one or more pictures. All of the information is placed on a computer file that can be shared only if that person is missing.
The Asheville Fire Department uses a computer program called First Due that has information about both pets and people with disabilities.
There remains in place a combined reward of $11,000 for information about the disappearance of Rick Travis. Anyone who can help is asked to contact local law enforcement.