SALAMANCA, N.Y. (WIVB) - The fate of a retired pastor, who disappeared in Allegany State Park, remains shrouded in mystery. Police received a puzzling clue, but there's still no sign of 92-year-old Thomas Hamilton, who vanished last week.
Police are puzzling over a picture given to them by Hamilton's daughter. The search is now expanding and the ROTC is joining in to help.
Army ROTC cadets out of St. Bonaventure University joined in the search for 92-year-old retired pastor Thomas Hamilton. They have trained at Allegany State Park before and know it can be rough terrain.
"Up and down. The hills are pretty steep; there's a lot of dead fall out there. Even me and some of our cadets have trouble out there," said one ROTC member.
The pastor and his 66-year-old daughter, Rebecca Hoffman, got lost in the Allegany State Park woods last Wednesday. On Thursday, the daughter made it out of the woods to get help, but hundreds of searchers have not been able to find her father.
Sgt. Clyde Doty of the State Parks Police said, "We are at five nights, six days. The rain yesterday certainly didn't help us today and it is cause for concern. But we're still optimistic."
Rebecca Hoffman drew a landmark from the woods that went out to the public. Photographs of possible locations have been shown to Hoffman, and so far, about a half dozen have been ruled out. Searchers are now combing the woods close together, trying not to miss any signs of the pastor's whereabouts.
Capt. Drew Cavanagh of the NYS Forest Rangers said, "Given the length of time that's gone by, we think it's quite possible that the subject may be down, he may be unable to communicate, that he's there, unable answer us when we're calling out."
There is still hope that Pastor Hamilton will be found alive somewhere in the park.
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