On Thursday morning, Sept. 15, 2011, just before 9 a.m., the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office located a missing person that had been wandering around in a disoriented state for approximately 30-plus hours in southern Nolan County.
Sergeant Brock Carter, with Nolan County Sheriff’s Office, found 25-year-old Gerald Bales near an unoccupied ranch bunk house, west of Texas Highway 70, and south of CR-236, about 20 miles south of Sweetwater. Gerald Bales had actually been missing since before midnight on Tuesday night, Sept. 13. A resident near Maryneal, Texas first reported the pick-up that Bales had been driving, to the Nolan County Sheriff’s Office, as abandoned at about 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Sept. 14.
A search began around noon on Wednesday after NCSO officials determined who the pick-up belonged to and pieced together the events that led up to the pick-up being abandoned on CR-181 about 2.5 miles south-southeast of Maryneal.
Gerald Bales was in Nolan County conducting business for the owner of a ranch that is located in the far southwestern part of Nolan County. The ranch owner lives in the New Braunfels area and Bales is also a resident of New Braunfels. Shortly after Bales arrived in Nolan County, he apparently became disoriented and unexplainably abandoned the 1999 GMC pick-up and walked away. Some citizen sightings led officers to the general area where Bales was eventually located. Bales was found alive and in generally good condition physically, although he was obviously mentally disoriented and confused. Bales’ condition may have been aggravated by medications he was taking.
Upon finding Bales, Sgt. Carter (NCSO) had him evaluated by paramedics with the Sweetwater Fire Department and he was ultimately transported by ambulance to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater for further evaluation and observation. Family members of Bales, as well as his employer, have been contacted and will make the necessary arrangements to help Bales return to New Braunfels once he is medically and mentally stable to travel. They will also see that Bales receives follow-up treatment once he is back in New Braunfels.
The nearly 24-hour search was quite extensive according to Sheriff David Warren and involved many resources. “My entire staff becomes involved in one of these types of searches and it really draws heavily on our NCSO resources. Very thankfully, we were assisted by several other entities such as the Texas Department of Public Safety – Highway Patrol, Texas DPS Aircraft Section, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Search Dogs and the local Texas Parks & Wildlife - Game Warden.” Warren stated. “I certainly appreciate the great cooperation and assistance we get from these state agencies every time we call on them. They are always willing to help my deputies on these situations.”
Sheriff Warren said that this is the second large scale search for a missing person in this area within the last four months. “We are extremely pleased to have found both of them alive and that both men will get to spend more years with their respective families. I want to encourage citizens to continue to contact us when they see something really out of the ordinary. A quick report to us, coupled with a quick response from us, truly paid off in this instance,” said to Sheriff Warren.