MARION TWP — An elderly man with dementia, missing for about 20 hours, was found this morning in woods a mile or so from his home in the township.
Raymond D. Mathews, 84, was “awake and breathing,” a family friend said, but possibly suffering hypothermia.
A medical helicopter was reportedly to fly him to a hospital for treatment.
State police confirmed Matthews, who was missing since about 2 p.m. Tuesday, was found. They did not immediately release any other details.
Before finding him, rescuers admitted their renewed search this morning for Mathews began with a sense of growing urgency.
“The temperatures dropped to about 35 degrees (Tuesday) night,” said Chief Joe Fitzgerald of the Marion Township Volunteer Fire Company. “He wasn’t dressed for the cold weather.”
Mathews, a former standout player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was last seen walking on the side of White Oak Road in Marion Township.
He takes daily walks on the road, where he lives with his wife, daughter and grandson on about 100 acres, said Dennis Hutchison of Harrisville, a family friend.
On Tuesday afternoon, when he did not return home, family and friends went out looking for him.
When they couldn’t find him, they notified state police. Soon after, Fitzgerald helped coordinate the search operation in and around the area of Allison Road.
Fitzgerald estimated the search encompassed a three-mile area.
About 30 volunteer firefighters from several departments participated in the search. Six canines from four rescue dog teams and a state police helicopter with night vision-type technology also assisted.
“It’s very rural and real swampy,” Fitzgerald said of the search area.
The operation was called off about 8 p.m.