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Number of volunteers triples in search for elderly man

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: Feb 25 2014 09:23:16 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2014 09:23:36 PM CST
OROVILLE, Calif. -

An 81-year-old man who wandered away from his Oroville home Saturday is still missing.

More than 100 volunteers from nine different rescue agencies are trying to find John Chesley.

The number of volunteers tripled overnight.

The Lakeside Gas Station parking lot in Oroville was the command center for the search party.

Chesley was last seen at his Peak View Drive home Saturday afternoon when his family said he wandered away and never came back.

On Tuesday 86 people gathered to search for the missing man. Volunteers from: Butte, Shasta, Placer, Nevada, Mendocino, Marin, Yuba and Contra Costa Counties; as well as, the state of California.

“They are broken up into various teams, canine teams, and search ground founder teams,” said Lieutenant Kevin Lucero of the Butte County Search and Rescue team. “We are combing different areas that we identify that are high probabilities for our missing subject.”

In addition, eight people at the command center poured over maps, and scouted out areas to search.

“You cannot have a good operation without a good overhead team,” said Lucero. “You have to have a good overhead team who know what they are doing and are skilled to identify the areas the searchers need to look at.”

Some of the volunteers even took vacation days from their day-to-day careers to help in this search and rescue effort.

“It’s about supporting one another,” said volunteer Kevin Tuck. “It's about helping the family. Think about the situation. If you're father was lost you would want people out there looking for him.”

Family friends of John Chesley also joined in.

“John's so old,” said family friend, Kimberly Franco. “I hated thinking what he's going through and that's just sad.”

Rescuers are focusing their efforts near the areas of Highway 162 and Kelly Ridge Road, but so far no clues have surfaced.

“You got to trust that  od's hand is on this and that John will find his way home,” said Franco.

Rescuers said the warm temperatures are vital to Chesley's survival.

The sheriff's office said that there was no foul play involved.

Chesley is described as a white man standing five foot eight inches, weighing 140 pounds with brown eyes, and short gray hair.

He was last seen in a blue flannel shirt, jeans and white shoes.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Butte County Sheriff's Office at (530) 538-7321.