Sylacauga man missing after train ride
by Emily Adams
Dec 28, 2011 | 4079 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA — A Sylacauga man is missing after a Dec. 16 train ride.

Mitchell Smith, 33, boarded an Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Dec. 16. The train was supposedly headed for Birmingham, but Smith never arrived and has not been heard from since.

“We are at a loss as to what could have happened to him,” said Madeline Smith, Mitchell Smith’s grandmother. “We have a lot of question marks right now.”

Smith, who is legally blind in both eyes, was visiting family in Bladensburg, Md., the week prior to the train ride.

Madeline Smith said she bought her grandson a ticket for a non-stop ride to Birmingham. Smith got on the train at 6:30 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Birmingham at 11:50 a.m.

Wilbert Patterson, a family friend, was at the station to bring Smith home, said Smith’s great-aunt, Johnnie Mae Goodgame of Sylacauga.

“Mr. Patterson drops him off and picks him up every time he travels, and this time he was there and Mitchell never arrived,” Goodgame said. “That’s all we know.”

Madeline Smith, who lives in Bladensburg, said the family has received conflicting reports about what could have happened.

An Amtrak conductor said Smith actually boarded a train headed to New Orleans, La. The route stopped in Charlotte, N.C., where Smith allegedly became confused and exited the train.

The family then reported Smith missing to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, which has been working with Amtrak Police to determine Smith’s next move.

Madeline Smith said Charlotte police now believe Smith bought a ticket to Newark, N.J.

“I don’t think he knows anybody there, so my question is where did he get the money for the ticket, who is looking after him and why hasn’t he called?” Madeline Smith said.

She said her grandson never hesitates to call if he needs help.

“He always calls us,” she said. “He knows my number by heart. If he needs help, he’ll ask for it, but we haven’t heard a thing.”

Madeline Smith said her grandson has traveled many times before and is familiar with the route.

“He has traveled here by plane, bus and train,” she said. “He’s done it enough times that this is not brand new to him. We’ve never had any problems.”

Smith is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, and has a scar on his right temple, the result of a shooting about nine years ago that left him blind. He also carries a red and white cane.

Anyone with information should call the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department at 704-336-7600.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.