HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - An elderly man, who suffers from dementia, is back home tonight, after wandering away from his house. Modern technology helped track him down.
It was the middle of Tuesday's evening service at the River at Tampa Bay Church. That's when the congregation saw an unusual sight come through their doors.
Associate pastor Eric Gonyon says Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies were searching for 68 year-old Christopher Simmons. He had wandered about a mile away from home and into the church. Pastor Gonyon said, "I went in and I tapped him on the shoulder. He was sitting in the back of the church and I said, 'Hey Christopher, Pastor Eric, I need to talk to you. Will you come with me?' and he looked a little dazed."
Simmons was enrolled in the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office's SafetyNet Program. A transmitter around his wrist or ankle sends a tracking signal to authorities.
Sergeant Jeff Massaro found Simmons safe. Coincidentally, he says the senior enrolled in the program just hours before disappearing. Sergeant Massaro told us the equipment was a big help. Sergeant Massaro said, "A traditional search without this equipment on average is about 9 hours. The national average for a search with this equipment is about 30 minutes."
The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office started the program three years ago. Nearly 40 people are signed up right now. Sergeant Massaro says it's $100 to register and $30 dollars each month. For more information on the program, you can call (813) 247-8567.
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