Who is the “Walking Man?” Destin may never know.
"In my day-to-day trek showing property I would see this gentleman make his way up and down the road," local Realtor John Paul Somers told The Log. "When the climate was changing and the temperatures began to get cold, I worried about him."
The man, who was identified as "Youseff" by lawmen spends a majority of his day pacing up and down U.S. Hwy. 98 and Commons Drive.
He has been stopped by deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office on a couple of occasions, and they say he is homeless and has no warrants for his arrest. Spokeswoman Michele Nicholson emailed The Log that Youseff “does not appear to be a threat to himself or others.”
According to deputies, the man told them he is “just trying to find a place to get out of the rain.” Based on the deputies' accounts, and that of other Destin residents, the man doesn't want to be bothered. A Log reporter approached the man along Commons Drive near LongHorn Monday night, but all he would say is “No, no, no …” as he walked away.
For quite some time the bearded man was a staple in Miramar Beach, walking in the general area between Seascape and the Tom Thumb on Holiday Road, almost always carrying a black bag and wearing the same clothes.
The owners of TOPS Hamburgers say that Youseff had spent some time at their establishment recently, ordering food and sitting at their picnic tables. The man was described as "quiet and cordial."
"I tried to offer him free food, money when I could, he always refused," owner Scott Mitch told The Log via Twitter.
Waking up on a chilly morning, Somers told The Log he had gone into his closet and found some old jackets that he wanted to take to the man, as well as a warm meal.
"I located him and pulled up behind him, but when I got out of the car, he sensed me and scrambled in the other direction," Somers said. "I drove ahead of him and got out of the car and stopped and he turned away from me again and headed in the other direction — I realized he had an aversion to making contact with me."
Somers left the "care package" on the ground for the man to pick up. The next day, Somers went back to where he had left the package and found it still sitting in the exact same spot, untouched.
"I just felt really bad for the gentleman and wanted to help him."
As one of Destin's few establishments that serve area homeless, Jennifer Lee from St. Andrew's By the Sea told The Log that she was aware of the man, but didn't recognize him as one of the church's regular visitors. St. Andrews offers free lunches and showers to those in need.
"He has never come here that I've seen," Lee said.
Over the past few months The Log's Facebook page and email inboxes have been filled with questions about the "Walking Man."
Lisa Egstad, a Log Facebook fan, wrote that her husband and others have tried talking to the man, but got no response.
"I think he got tired of all the people trying to 'help' him and moved further west to Destin," she wrote.