Family continues to search for missing elderly father

Family searching for Jerry Harris

Editor’s note: Harris has been found deceased since the publication of this piece. Read more here.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A 79-year-old man is still missing Thursday after he walked away from his care home earlier in the week.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said Jerry Harris was last seen around noon Tuesday by staff members. A passerby reported seeing Mr. Harris in the area of La Cañada and Ina around 12:15 p.m.

Linda Swango and her brother Gary Harris tell KOLD that their father was staying at Sunsent Ridge Care Home on North Pomona Road. They have been searching the area ever since.

“It’s really scary right now and we just want to find him,” said Swango.

“When we first heard we were mostly just panicked trying to figure out where he’s at,” said Harris.

Jerry Harris is last seen on a security camera photo at a bus stop around 12:08 p.m.

It’s frustrating for the family that he got out in the first place, but it’s not where their energy lies.

“I haven’t had any feelings one way or the other towards the care home, our focus right now is to find our dad and get him back,” said Harris.

Sunset Ridge has no prior enforcement actions or complaints according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

KOLD reached out to Sunset Ridge via phone and email Thursday and received this statement:

“Our Caregiver Staff is devastated and heart-broken about this. We’ve worked especially hard with Jerry to help him with his difficult condition and he has flourished during his time here and we miss him dearly. We’ve come to know and love him and his family and stand together and strong in hopes for his quick return. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jerry and his family during this difficult time. Much thanks to all who have helped so far in the search, and as it continues we want all to know that any help in finding him is greatly appreciated.”

Meanwhile, the family continues to search, putting up these posters, handing them to strangers, in a search that grows more frantic as the temperature continues to rise.

“We’re out looking and it’s really hot out here with the heat, his Parkinson’s, his age,” said Swango.

Due to COVID, they haven’t been able to see their dad in seven weeks. And now the idea of possibly not seeing him again is unbearable.

“He’s our dad—he was there for us growing up and we owe him more than any, either of us could say,” said Harris.

Now they're left hoping this all ends in a safe reunion.

“We’re driven to find him,” said Harris.

Over the past few days, the sheriff’s department has been flying overhead using infrared to search for him, but haven’t found anything.

Jerry was last seen wearing a green shirt, brown slippers, and gray pants and if you see him please call 911.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.