A man with dementia missing from a relative’s home in 4S Ranch has been found and reunited with his family, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
Deputies say 78-year-old Michael Becker was found at The Villas at Camino Bernardo, an apartment complex off Camino Del Norte about 2 miles away from his daughter's house on Cayenne Creek Court, the place where he was last seen.
A citizen who heard about the search for Becker from law enforcement and media coverage reported seeing Becker wandering the apartment complex just before 3 p.m.
An office employee at the apartment complex brought him inside and called the San Diego Police Department which in turn contacted the SDSO.
"We pretty much know all of our residents," said Sharon Hensley, the Assistant Community Relations Manager. "So when we saw [Becker] walking around in the front office here, we just thought it looked a little out of place."
Hensley said she approached Becker and began conversation and after a short time she recognized signs of dementia, a disease she said her own mother suffered from.
"I knew that I couldn't let him walk away," Hensley said. "So I convinced him to come in, had a bottle of water, sat down with him and just talked with him and stayed with him."
Becker was reported missing at around 9:45 a.m. a few hours after he walked out of the door at his daughter’s house at approximately 7:45 a.m.
Search and Rescue teams set up an initial search area within three miles of the home, and it expanded as time went on.
The SDSO Search and Rescue team used a helicopter and tracking k-9 units to help find Becker. Volunteers also jumped in to assist deputies and other SDSO staff, SDSO Sargent Edward Ward said.
Ward said this particular search was made more difficult with all of the natural terrain in the area, like waterways, open space and drop-offs.
Michelle Edwards, Becker's daughter, told NBC 7 that Becker is in town from Arizona helping out as his granddaughter recovers from surgery.
"The family has a sense that he's just sitting in somebody's backyard waiting for us to come home because for some reason he can't get back inside the house because he's at the wrong house," Edwards said amid the search for her father.
Edwards told NBC 7 her dad has walk out of the house without the family noticing in the past, but has never ventured more than a few blocks.