Local News

Elderly man found alive after spending night in the woods

Posted March 23

— An elderly man reported missing after walking away from a rest home on Saturday was found alive early Sunday afternoon.

David Lee Bennett, 84, was admitted to the James Rest Home in New Hill on Friday. He was missing from the home Saturday afternoon. 

Residents can come and go as they please from the facility unless they’re classified as a wanderer, which Bennett was not, the facility manager said. An employee followed Bennett but lost sight of him in nearby woods, where rescuers searched for him Sunday.

He was found less than a mile from the facility. He was conscious and alert when found and was transported to Western Wake Hospital for further examination, authorities said.

Volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol, along with the Wake County Sheriff's Office and local fire departments, searched for Bennett.

“Time is always of the essence, particularly finding someone that’s been out overnight in the elements,” said Andy Wiggs with the patrol, the U.S. Air Force’s auxiliary group.

The area, which Bennett was not familiar with, is described as swampy and full of thick brush. The search included four wheelers, six-person teams on foot, K-9 units and help from the air.

Emergency management officials made a reverse 911 call, alerting people living within a 5 mile radius about Bennett.

“We have utilized that system before and I've seen it work with my own eyes,” said Sgt. Dave Bradford with the sheriff’s office.

6 Comments

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  • scubagirl2 Mar 24, 3:49 p.m.

    ". An employee followed Bennett but lost sight of him in nearby woods,"

    PLEASE tell me that an employee with this LITTLE common sense no longer works at James.......WHY didn't he run to catch up, call out to him something ...???

  • Obamacare rises again Mar 24, 12:29 p.m.

    Can't say I blame him. If someone dropped me off there, I'd rather stay in the woods too.

  • pja1357 Mar 24, 12:27 p.m.

    Tracking devices are good but not if the person figures out how to take it off or just refuses to wear it. If this situation is not corrected immediately the odds are he will do it again. Facility do your job and to his family you need to do your job also. My heart aches for this poor gentleman.

  • pja1357 Mar 24, 12:22 p.m.

    The employee followed Bennett but lost sight of him in nearyby woods? What? If you were following him and saw the wooded area coming up then why in the world would you have let an 84 year old man continue to go in that direction? Also knowing that this elderly man was just admitted on Friday then why in the world was there not a buddy system set up or something to welcome this man and make him feel more comfortable in this new place for him? I would be furious if I was a family member. I would be yanking him out of that facility right away. Shame on that employee and shame on James Rest Home!!

  • carolinaprincess62 Mar 24, 11:22 a.m.

    I am glad he was found and hope all is well. I saw on another site where someone suggest a... View More

    — Posted by sunshine1040

    There is a program that does do this. One of which I know about is Project Lifesaver. They use a bracelet that is tracked just like you could track a hunting dog. However, there is no excuse for this man to not have been supervised. You don't admit someone to a facility on Friday and leave them unsupervised. You have to know your residents.

  • sunshine1040 Mar 24, 9:31 a.m.

    I am glad he was found and hope all is well. I saw on another site where someone suggest a tracking device be put on our elderly patients with memory problems and sounds like a good idea to me and should be paid for by an insurance company that this man has most likely paid to for most of his life Medicare.