Gilberto Feliciano remembers when his daughter was young. But with the beginning stages of Alzheimer's setting in, he has difficulty remembering a lot of other things. That's why he boarded a bus in Miami, bound to Maryland to live with his daughter. He never got off the bus.
"I wasn't too worried originally. The next day I started getting really worried," said Feliciano's daughter Lorah Proffitt.
When hours and then days passed with no signs of the 64-year-old, panic set in. The family spent Christmas without him.
"That was difficult for me," said Proffit. "At one point I started to lose hope, because at that point it had been 10-11 days."
Sometime during that same period, Feliciano ended up at WakeMed with a bump on his head. He thinks he was mugged at or around the Raleigh Bus Station. With his wallet gone. Feliciano struggled to remember what happened.
"He came and pushed me," he said.
Feliciano was released from the hospital but somehow ended up back at the ER, disoriented. He could only provide a young resident with his name. Knowing he had to have family somewhere, Dr. Michael Solle did a computer search and found that a television station in Baltimore had done a story about his disappearance.
The doctor notified Miami authorities, where Proffitt had reported him missing. Proffitt found out Monday from Miami police he was in Raleigh.
"This could have turned out very bad, but it didn't, because he did that search," she said. . In a twist of fate, Proffitt's in-laws had just moved to the Triangle. They were able to go to the hospital and help bring an end to Feliciano's fears and frustrations of not being able to remember his daughter's name.
"When you go through those emotions, what else can you say?" says Feliciano.
The family is now trying to gather information and figure out what happened. Ironically, Tuesday was Dr. Solle's last day at WakeMed, where he has now ended his residency.