An elderly Massachusetts man who got lost on his way to visit a relative in Rhode Island on Tuesday was found in Amityville on Wednesday morning, hungry and thirsty but in good spirits after roughly 24 hours driving, village police said.
Amityville police Officer Charles Taylor pulled over 83-year-old Robert Parker's black Toyota at 7:16 a.m. Wednesday on Merrick Road. Taylor was dispatched after Gigi Copeland, of Kings Park, saw a Missing Vulnerable Adult Alert on a highway sign and called 911 after spotting Parker's vehicle.
Parker was headed south on Route 110 near Melville when Copeland, a materials manager for Melville Surgery Center, spotted him in front of her at a red light. She'd seen the alert just minutes before on the Northern State Parkway. She followed his vehicle, her hazard lights blinking to make it easier for police to home in, until Taylor pulled Parker over at a Stop & Shop parking lot on Merrick Road.
"I think my angels and his angels must have gotten together," Copeland said.
In the daylong period that Parker was alone on the roads without a cellphone or GPS guidance, Taylor said, he drove into Manhattan and the Bronx, sometimes stopping at gas stations to buy gas and snacks. After he ran out of cash, a gas station attendant in the Bronx gave him $15 worth of free gas.
"He was disappointed in himself that he couldn't find his way back to Massachusetts," Taylor said. "He told me, 'I was trying to make my way and kind of got lost.' "
Taylor escorted Parker to the police station in Amityville Village Hall, where he gave the motorist breakfast -- coffee and a buttered roll -- before the two made the trip to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip.
Taylor said that Parker was dehydrated and had gone without needed medication while lost.
Parker was treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman said, and family members picked him up Thursday for the drive home to Seekonk, Mass.
His wife, Alicia Parker, said she planned to send fruit baskets to the Amityville Police Department and to Copeland. That her husband had been found so far from home, she said, was "a miracle."