Rabbi: Jerome Nadler remembers 'feeling weak'

Jerome Nadler, 76, was missing for three days before a Suffolk County police dog and two K-9 officers found him semiconscious, dehydrated and wearing fishing waders in Caleb Smith State Park. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Sept. 7, 2012)

The fly-fishing East Setauket doctor found alive in a nature preserve three days after being reported missing told visitors Friday he's feeling stronger but doesn't remember much about his ordeal.

"I feel a little better," Dr. Jerome Nadler, his hands appearing swollen, said from his bed at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Nadler, 76, went fishing Labor Day morning and never returned to his car, parked at Smithtown's sprawling Caleb Smith State Park.

A search by air and land ended after noon Thursday, when a Suffolk County police dog and two K-9 officers found the missing man -- dazed and dehydrated.

The dog -- a 4-year-old German shepherd named Chase -- found Nadler in a clearing surrounded by brush about 200 feet southeast of the Nissequogue River.

The K-9 officers, William Krolikiewicz and Samuel Barreto, visited Nadler on Friday, returning his fishing vest.

Barreto said Nadler didn't remember either officer, but he had a clear recollection of Chase -- and even inquired about the dog's breed and age.

Suffolk police K-9 Lt. Brian Coltellino, who accompanied the officers, said afterward that Nadler "still doesn't know everything that happened" to him.

"He may never remember," Coltellino said.

Investigators haven't been able to talk to Nadler because of his medical condition. They want to ask him whether he suffered from some kind of medical emergency, got lost or became incapacitated when his waders filled with water, a law enforcement source said.

Nadler was found on the opposite side of the river from the fishing locations.

He told his rabbi on Friday that he remembered suddenly not feeling well.

"He felt if he's feeling weak, better to be on land," said Chaim Grossbaum, co-director of Chabad House of Stony Brook, where Nadler has worshiped for the past five years. Grossbaum said he didn't know if that's the last thing Nadler remembers or if he suffered some sort of medical condition.

Nadler's wife, daughter and son have expressed their appreciation to the agencies involved in the rescue.

"He's a very tough individual," Matthew Nadler, of Overland Park, Kan., said Thursday of his father, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam.

Attending physician Frederick Schiavone called Nadler "extremely fortunate."

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