OREM (ABC4 News) – The family of a missing man who was found after Utah’s first-ever Silver Alert is grateful to have him back home safely after his epic 42 hour, four state adventure.
80-year-old Robert Jones suffers from Alzheimer’s so he didn’t realize that his wife Karen was asleep in the next room when he started a two-day journey to find her.
Robert’s family thinks he left his house in Orem around 1 a.m. Sunday and asked for directions.
“I believe someone in Orem told him how to get on I-15,” his son Brett Jones told ABC4 News. “He asked them where Salt Lake was and they told him how to get to Salt Lake and he got on the freeway and then he just drove.”
And drove and drove and drove until he ran out of gas 600 miles away near Pendleton, Oregon.
A good Samaritan gave him a ride to a gas station where his credit card was declined at 9:59 Sunday night but he used cash to fill up in nearby Stanfield at 11:33 and kept going.
“He was aware the whole time that he was lost, that he was looking for my mother and I think he did feel distressed,” daughter Pam Wilburn said. “He doesn’t quite have the cognitive ability to tell somebody ‘I’m lost. I need help’.”
The family kept tracking his Discover card Monday morning in Mountain Home, Idaho and Monday afternoon in Winnemucca, Nevada.
Related: Free 24-hour hotline available to help you or someone you know living with Alzheimer’s disease
After ABC4 News informed an Orem Police lieutenant about the new Silver Alert system, they put out an alert with a description of his vehicle at 4:04 p.m.
Less than 3 hours later a gas station attendant found him in Wilder, Idaho. 42 hours and an estimated 1600 miles later, Robert was safe…and on his way back home.
“It was just nice to give him a big hug. You know, ‘good to see you Dad’,” Wilburn said. “He just said ‘Sure happy to be home’.”
Robert’s family tells ABC4 that now he is healthy and happy but has no recollection of his epic, meandering journey.
Brett and Pam say that they’re having a security system installed in Robert’s home so an alarm will sound if he tries to leave by himself again.