A volunteer searching for an 81-year-old retired Suffolk homicide detective who had gone missing 54 hours earlier found him Thursday about a half-mile from his Bay Shore home.
Linda Abramoske, 55, of Selden, said she found Fredrick Eaton “slumped over” in the driver’s seat of an unlocked car parked on Arbour Street in West Islip shortly before noon on Thursday.
“He wiggled his fingers, so I knew he was alive. I called for an ambulance immediately,” Abramoske said. “Everyone has to help out whenever you see something like this.”
Within 10 minutes, police officers, search volunteers and concerned neighbors had surrounded the front lawn of the house on Arbour Street, where first responders were administering oxygen and fluids to the exhausted retiree.
Abramoske was among a group of a couple hundred volunteers recruited on Facebook who had set out around 8 a.m. looking for the man.
Rosco Eaton, Fredrick’s son, said the family appreciated the help of the volunteers.
His father was in stable condition at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip and awaiting the results of a CT scan as of 3:30 p.m., Rosco Eaton said.
“He’s so dehydrated . . . He got upset when they picked him up, but he’s alive,” said Eaton, 54, as paramedics rolled his father to an ambulance. “For him to survive that, it’s a miracle . . . Toughest guy I’ve ever met, and he’s proved it once again.”
Eaton’s daughter, Stacey Tursi, informed family members that her dad had been found.
Members of Frederick Eaton’s family said the retired detective, who had served on the force for 25 years, suffers from severe dementia, and previously had gone missing from his home for approximately an hour eight months ago.
“We went yard to yard, everyone we knew, just checking for him,” said David Meisser, 39, of Bay Shore, another volunteer who started searching for Eaton Tuesday. “We saw helicopters circling.”
Police had been coordinating the search for Eaton from the front yard of his family’s residence on Reilly Street in Bay Shore. Helicopters and K-9 units were deployed to assist in searching a coverage area of approximately one square mile, from the Southern State Parkway to Grand Boulevard.
Eaton had last been seen at his residence at about 8 p.m. Monday, police said. His family added that they had first discovered him missing from his bed at about 6 the following morning.