In Bellegarde (Gard), the hunt to find Fernando brought together around sixty people

In Bellegarde (Gard), the hunt to find Fernando brought together around sixty people

The police organize the search, in the presence of Mayor Juan Martinez and Captain Emery (right). FREE MIDI – Adrien Boudet

In Bellegarde (Gard), the hunt to find Fernando brought together around sixty people

Briefing de départ de battue. MIDI LIBRE – AD. B.

In Bellegarde (Gard), the hunt to find Fernando brought together around sixty people

Départ d'un des six groupes. MIDI LIBRE – Adrien Boudet

L'octogénaire a disparu le 12 janvier. La commune de Bellegarde a appelé à "une battue citoyenne". Les habitants ont, une nouvelle fois, fait preuve de solidarité.

Where did Fernando Lopes go ? The last time the octogenarian was seen was here, on the Bellegarde plateau, in front of the Frederico Garcia Lorca college. "The camera had filmed him. It was January 12. Since then, we haven't had a trace, describes the mayor of Bellegarde Juan Martinez.

This Saturday, same place, seven days after Fernando's disappearance. There are around sixty of them who braved the cold to participate in a “citizen battle”, at the call of the town hall, in agreement with the police. There are Lorenzo and Lourdes Lauis there. They did not particularly know Fernando Lopes but know where he lived. And above all, Lorenzo walks a lot in the area that he knows like the back of his hand. "Just after college, it's nature very quickly. There are vines, he describes. I often go there to look for wild asparagus. He could have slipped, fallen. There are hidden places where no one goes."

"The memory of little Océane"

Next to them, Stéphane, who lived for 20 years in Bellegarde (he is now in Bouillargues) also wanted to come. "I didn't know this gentleman, but I remember little Océane a few years ago (1), where a hunt had been organized. I arrived too late…"

Still not found

Captain Eric Emery, second in command of the Nîmes company, speaks. "Thank you for this demonstration of solidarity and citizenship. In Bellegarde, that doesn't surprise me. Mr. Lopes has been missing for a week. The research carried out so far has yielded nothing, but we have the beginnings of a clue." The captain indicates search areas. He specifies: "Mr. Lopes used to go for a walk for between one and a half and two hours every day and return home. He had red gloves."

The groups form six in number. The soldiers supervise the teams, each responsible for a sector. The Bellegarde local brigade and the Nîmes Psig are organizing the searches.  "The disappearances of elderly people are numerous. But usually we find them quickly, explains Captain Emery to Midi Libre. It's good to have a citizen fight. But we will also make sure that no one gets hurt or gets lost during the search."

These last two hours. But they don't make it possible to find the missing person. "The searches were in vain, unfortunately for the family, relates the captain. We will continue, as part of the service, by extending the perimeter." Some, like Lorenzo, guaranteed that they would continue to search the area at all costs. So as not to leave the family without news of Fernando.

(1) A beatdown was organized for little Océane, 8 years old, in 2012. The young girl was found dead, murdered after being raped. A tragedy that deeply marked the village.   

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