GLENS FALLS, NY — Brian Pincheon, a retired Fort Edward police officer, wanted answers about what happened to his friend, Rick Hazelton.
“I started going through all the John Does and trying to find Rick. I ended up hooking up with a detective in Nashville, Tennessee.”
Pincheon found a sketch of someone he thought looked a lot like Hazelton with the help of the other detective, they tracked down some information. After years of not hearing from him, Hazelton’s family had him legally declared dead.
“One day I got a letter in the mail that said, ‘you’re being investigated in a missing persons report,’ and I thought, ‘that can’t be right, I’m not missing, this has gotta be a mistake,’ ” said Hazelton told Spectrum News.
Not only was Hazelton not dead, he was alive and doing great. He tried being a street performer in New York City. From there he’d gone to Miami, caught an inexpensive flight to Colorado, then hitchhiked west.
“After that, I’d raised a family and all that and lived life and then we moved to Oregon,” says Hazelton, “I’ve been there for 20 years.”
Cell phones and social media weren’t around back then and Hazelton says he just fell out of touch with friends and family.
“I didn’t think anybody really cared so I just made my own life and did it.
But they did. After exchanging letters with phone numbers, Hazelton called Pincheon.
“When I called them they were like, ‘Oh, you’re like back from the dead!’ said Hazelton.
“It was for about 3 1/2 hours and we just kept going on and on about childhood memories,” said Hazelton’s re-found friend Pincheon.
And after months of planning, Hazelton made his way back to Glens Falls to see his childhood friends once again. On Sunday, the group organized a game of kickball on the Ridge Street Playground, where they used to play as kids.
“It’s so heartwarming to feel the love that we have here today for each other and how much we missed each other,” said Pincheon, “It’s just got me flabberghasted for lack of a better word, it’s amazing.”
And Pincheon has a message to others, “If you love somebody, don’t even give up on them. If you don’t have an answer, keep going until you can find out what actually happened.”