Slowed by rheumatoid arthritis that made him stop every half block or so to take a break, 87-year-old Ramon Duran and his little red cart were a common sight around west Clovis.
Almost everyday, family members said Duran would walk with his cart, collecting aluminum cans to sell, as he had for years.
The route he walked to collect aluminum cans was so set over the years, residents often separated the cans from their garbage, setting them out in neatly bundled bags so Duran wouldn’t have to search for them.
And if a couple of days went by without him walking his route, residents would call family to make sure he was okay, his niece Maurice Archuleta said.
“My uncle was a happy-go-lucky person. Everyone knew him as uncle. (He walked) everyday. Everybody knew his route,” she said.
“He had many loved ones that cared for him even strangers were out looking for him.”
Around 6 p.m. Wednesday family members became panicked and filed a police report when Duran didn’t show up at home.
Over the next five days, more than 30 friends and family combed the streets of Clovis and neighboring communities looking for him.
Sunday night, Duran’s body was found by sheriff’s deputies in an alley off Lasso Road near Cannon Air Force Base, a little more than six miles from his home.
“The investigation is currently pending an autopsy to determine the cause of death,” Undersheriff Wesley Waller said in an e-mail Monday afternoon, explaining there were no obvious signs of foul play at the scene.
Investigators have sent Duran’s body to the medical investigator.
But Duran’s family doesn’t understand how he got so far from home without being seen when the alert had been put out that he was missing.
“We have a lot of unanswered questions,” Archuleta said.
“It’s not satisfying news for us, it’s too far out for him.”
Still in shock, Archuleta said family members don’t believe Duran walked that far from his home in the area of Eighth and Cameo Streets.
Archuleta said Duran was last seen Wednesday walking east in the area of 12th and Mitchell Streets.
“He did walk around in this neighborhood where he’s always lived, (but) we’ve never known him to even cross Main Street,” she said.
Archuleta said her uncle was in good health and sound mind, although he walked very slowly with a limp and stopped often to take a break and roll a cigarette.
Family are anxiously awaiting the results of the autopsy in the hopes some of their questions will be answered, she said.