TOWN OF DICKINSON, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – After disappearing from his hometown two years ago, an unhoused man has finally been reunited with his loved ones.
Earl Sutton has called a bus stop shelter on Upper Front Street home for the last several months. Over time, community members, health care workers, law enforcement, and many others have attempted to support him in getting back on his feet with the help of various community resources. Though Sutton qualified for a variety of social services and public assistance programs, he declined the assistance. Wanting to help him out of his current situation, Sheriff Fred Akshar says he and his team felt like they were at a loss.
“We had all spoken with Earl and tried to get him to seek the help he needed, but at the time, Earl was not interested,” said Akshar. “We were running out of options, but living at a bus stop is not an acceptable solution for anyone, especially as the weather begins to turn cold.”
In August, Akshar directed the Broome County Sheriff’s Office team to attempt to locate and contact Sutton’s family. Eventually, Law Enforcement Division Captain Ben Harting was able to reach Earl Sutton’s Uncle, James Sutton, in Toledo, Ohio. According to Uncle James, Earl had been missing for two years.
“My family is grateful and so happy he’s been found,” said James Sutton. “Earl had a bike accident that left him in a challenging mental state. He had stopped taking his medication and disappeared. For two years, no one knew where he was. We thought he might be dead.”
On September 8, after working with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office and Broome County Department of Social Services, Uncle James traveled from Ohio to Broome County to finally bring his nephew Earl home to their family.
“I’d like to publicly thank our dedicated members of the Law Enforcement Division for all their hard work and unwavering commitment to doing everything they can to make our community a safer place for all our residents,” said Akshar said. “Thank you to Broome County Department of Social Services and Earl’s family for all coming together to ensure this situation had the best of all possible outcomes.”