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Teamwork and technology helped the Antelope County Sheriff’s Department reunite a missing elderly man with his family early Sunday morning.
It was around 4:45 a.m. that Sergeant John Shaver was notified by Antelope County dispatchers that a missing 89-year-old Madison County man was believed to be traveling west on Highway 275 toward Clearwater.
Although it was only about 30 minutes after Shaver went off duty, the deputy quickly responded from his home north of Orchard. He was north of the Summerland Road when he was notified the vehicle was through Clearwater. The driver then turned off Highway 275 at Ewing, took 45B north and was then headed east on Highway 20 when Shaver tracked him down, thanks to communication with OnStar.
An OnStar advisor was speaking with a dispatcher, who in turn relayed the location and vehicle speed to Shaver, who said the delay was only about 30 seconds, which allowed him to intercept the vehicle, despite it changing highways. Shaver said Antelope County was in contact with Holt County, who advised Shaver to proceed into Holt County since he was closing distance.
“OnStar was invaluable because with the original call to Clearwater. With just the vehicle description and plate number, I may have never had contact with him,” Shaver said. “If I would have stayed on Highway 275, I wouldn’t have caught up to him west of Orchard on Highway 20. Their live updates kept me from guessing and turned this into a positive outcome very quickly.”
Shaver said the department is often notified of missing and endangered individuals to watch for but very few are ever located in Antelope County. Having the technology available to tell them exactly where the vehicle is — as well as the speed it’s traveling — was key in helping this man be reunited with his family.
“From the time they notified law enforcement to when they were reunited in Orchard was only a couple of hours,” Shaver said. “That doesn’t normally happen that quickly. I’m sure it was a very stressful time for the family not knowing where he was at.”
Shaver said once he spotted the vehicle, he turned on his overhead lights and treated the situation like a typical traffic stop as to not alarm the driver, who agreed to accompany Shaver to Orchard and be picked up by his family. Shaver then took one of the family members back to retrieve the man’s vehicle.
“The No. 1 reason I do this job is to help people, so to see an outcome like this just reaffirms that,” he said. “The communication between dispatch and OnStar was key to being able to reunite this family.”