About 15 years ago, I had a family member who ended up in an overcrowded South Florida hospital. It was a miserable experience with one nurse to every 10 or 11 patients and no way to get any sort of prompt help.
Then one night, hospital staff burst into the room, flicked on all the lights, and started looking in every nook and cranny. They even checked under the bed.
It turned out that a patient had vanished from his bed, just up and disappeared. They would later find out that he had left the hospital against medical advice, but there were some tense moments on the floor before they figured out what was going on.
See, it’s scary when people go missing from the hospital, and if they happen to have mental issues? Well, that simply shifts the situation from chilling to downright terrifying.
I can only imagine how nervous the staff of Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Florida, must’ve become when 83-year-old Arthur LaFontaine disappeared on Oct. 31. According to WJXT, he suffered from dementia.
However, that wasn’t the reason he was in the hospital that day. He’d gone to the emergency room due to a different condition.
But while sitting in the facility’s lounge after being discharged, he apparently grew tired of waiting for his ride, so he simply wandered off.
Surveillance footage would later show LaFontaine meandering out of the hospital and walking away from its campus. Administrators feared the worst might have happened to the Navy veteran.
So they contacted the authorities, and 100 first responders showed up and began to comb the area. WTLV reported that they even brought out K9 units to aid in the search.
“It was going through thick brush and woods and muddy areas, trying to find him,” Jared Monie, a detective with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, said. “But we weren’t going to leave any area unturned until we located him.”
It took 20 hours of searching, but that muddy, dirty, strenuous search ended in the best possible way: LaFontaine was found alive.
WFMY reported that it wasn’t the dogs or the officers who found the veteran. Instead, it was a helicopter.
Eventually, officers made their way to LaFontaine on foot. And it was a good thing they didn’t dally.
He was discovered in a nearby marsh and was dehydrated, as well as completely covered in mud. However, he was also alert and didn’t seem particularly mentally compromised.
“It was quite a relief and a blessing, because he was very weak and fragile and dehydrated,” said Jeff Cook, another detective. “He was so fragile, the state he was in.
“Sometimes they don’t always turn out that way, so it’s good that it did this time.” Indeed, it most certainly is!
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