Man's best friend is here to save the day!
Last week, a nine-hour search for a missing elderly man in New Jersey ended after his beloved dog led an off-duty police officer to him, according to a Facebook post from the Manchester Police.
Fred Rapp, 78, was reported missing to police on Nov. 27 when his daughter, Heidi Sarno, alerted officers that she was unable to locate her father or his vehicle. She had previously seen him earlier that same day. Sarno's concern prompted police to make a missing person report and start an investigation.
Using GPS data from Rapp's cell phone, police were able to track him to an area near the ASARCO and Crossley Preserve land sites. There, authorities "searched the wooded areas with the department’s Humvee, drone, and its newly acquired all-terrain vehicle," per police, but were unable to find Rapp or his vehicle.
Police detailed that there were "multiple unsuccessful attempts" made that evening and the next morning to contact Rapp on his cell phone, before the elderly man eventually answered a call from Sgt. Theodore Cooke.
Rapp told Cooke that he had crashed his car in a wooded area while driving with his dog and was unfamiliar with his location, but added that someone was now with him.
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Handing his phone over to off-duty Manchester Sergeant Charles Brooks, who was hunting in the area, Rapp was then able to receive help after Brooks offered information to his colleagues of their location. Police noted the area where Rapp had crashed "was inaccessible to motor vehicles."
Once help arrived, Rapp was transported to Bone Hill Road, where he was treated by Manchester First Aid, before he was later transported to Community Medical Center for evaluation and treatment.
According to police, while Brooks was hunting in the area where Rapp had crashed, he came across a dog on a nearby trail, that he later learned was the elderly man's canine companion named Petie.
Initially assuming that the animal had become separated from his owner, Brooks looked around to find a potential pet parent and followed the dog's paw prints for "several hundred yards," per police.
While on his journey, Brooks discovered Rapp and was able to reunite him with his dog and lend him the support he needed to get help.
"This situation highlights the fact that a police officer is a police officer 24/7," said Manchester Police Chief Lisa Parker. "We are truly fortunate that Sgt. Brooks was in the right place at the right time because without his help there is no telling how this story would have ended."
Police also noted that the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit helped the Manchester Police Department locate Rapp's vehicle later on Dec. 1, alongside the Berkeley Township Police Department and Lacey Township Police Department.
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