Missing senior found in woods after Silver Alert issued

Posted at 8:36 PM, Oct 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 20:03:08-04

At least a dozen Silver Alerts were issued across Central Texas in September. One man is thankful to have found his father alive after he went missing for 15 hours.

Peter Reed is 78 years old and has been suffering from dementia for the last 10 years. His short-term memory has caused him to wander before, but never like this.

"I asked him, 'why did you leave your house last night?' And he said 'I was going to see the doctor,'" said Mike Finnell, Reed's son.  "I said 'well you're fixing to see him, he's on his way and he'll be here any minute!'"

Reed left his house in the middle of the night on Sept. 16 for what he thought was a doctor's appointment. Finnell found out his father was missing around 10 a.m. the next day.

Waco Police put out a Silver Alert and immediately began searching the area for Reed. Finnell's wife also took to Facebook, where she said more than 100 volunteers offered to help with their mission of bringing his father home safely.

After hours of searching land and sea, Finnell and a group of volunteers found his father stuck in a ditch in the middle of the woods.

"Branches and logs and stuff all over him. He was holding onto two branches, on his back, looking up. He was pale and white," said Finnell. "I hollered at him and said, 'dad, can you hear me' and he kind of gave me a little wave."

Reed doesn't remember the terrifying incident, but he said it sounds like something he would do.

"Growing up, you know, I was always out in the woods," said Reed.

Reed lives in an independent living community where he can come and go as he pleases. Finnell visits him throughout the week and when he's not there he has cameras and caretakers to keep him in the loop.

"It's my job to give him the absolute best quality of life for as many years as he's going to be around," said Finnell.

He's now putting GPS technology in his pants and shoes to make sure this doesn't happen again. He hopes others take the same measures to protect their loved ones.

"I can never repay what he did to me, but I'm going to do everything in my power to repay him," said Finnell.

Finnell also said he can't thank officers and volunteers enough for helping to reunite him with his father.

The Alzheimer's Association of America reports that about 60 percent of people who suffer from memory loss will wander at some point in their lives. 

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