Late Tuesday morning, after an extensive daylong search, a frail elderly man who had been missing since Monday from his 162 Hattertown Road home was found unharmed, sleeping in a farm field off Head O’ Meadow Road.
The search for Martin Lee Allen, 71, had been underway since police learned at 12:47 pm on Monday that he was missing. Mr Allen’s home is located at the five-way intersection of Hattertown Road, Hundred Acres Road, Eden Hill Road, and Oak Ridge Drive.
Mr Allen, who had last been seen at his home about four hours before he was reported as missing to police, apparently walked away from his residence.
Police said that Mr Allen was “disoriented” when he was found at about 11:15 am on Tuesday. Mr Allen was thirsty, hungry, and fatigued, police said.
Police Sergeant Aaron Bahamonde said that police had asked town highway department workers to drive through the designated search area looking for Mr Allen from the high vantage point that their large dump trucks provide.
Two highway crew members — Andrew White and Buddy Ingram — who were riding in the same truck entered eastbound Head O’ Meadow Road from Sugar Street (Route 302) and then drove about 100 yards when they looked to the north and spotted what initially appeared to be a large boulder in a farm field.
After checking the object, the two men learned that the “boulder,” which was located about 150 yards off the roadway, actually was Mr Allen, who was asleep, Sgt Bahamonde said.
The place where Mr Allen was found is about 3.5 road miles from his home.
The sergeant credited the highway department members for their work in finding the missing man, saying that they effectively saved his life by locating him as soon as they did.
A Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps crew transported Mr Allen to the nearby Ferris Acres Creamery parking lot at 144 Sugar Street, where he was checked by the ambulance staff. He was then transported to Danbury Hospital to be further assessed. Mr Allen was treated at the hospital emergency department and then released.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe termed Mr Allen an “at-risk individual,” who might have fallen into a harmful situation had he not been found as soon as he was.
Police had issued a “Silver Alert” as part of their search for the man. That alert system issues public notifications about missing at-risk senior citizens in seeking to find them.
Wandering away from home on foot was “untypical behavior” for Mr Allen, Chief Kehoe said, prompting the major search for him by police and other agencies.
Two helicopters were flown to Newtown to aid in the search, coming to the area on Monday night and early Tuesday morning, Chief Kehoe said. The Stratford-based Eagle One police helicopter and a helicopter from a federal agency participated, the police chief said.
One helicopter crew used searchlights and the other crew used thermal-imaging equipment in seeking to find the man along the Route 302 corridor.
Route 302 Corridor
Police focused their search along the Route 302 corridor after having received several separate tips from the public that a man fitting Mr Allen’s description had been spotted walking near Ferris Acres Creamery on Monday.
The town had used its Code Red emergency notification system three times to publicize the search. The Code Red system employed automated telephone messages to elicit tips on the missing man’s whereabouts.
Chief Kehoe explained that the search area for Mr Allen extended outward from Ferris Aces Creamery along a two-mile radius
Chief Kehoe estimated that overall between 75 and 100 people were involved in the search for Mr Allen. Six police dogs were used in the search and more dogs were on the way to Newtown when Mr Allen was found.
Members of the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company were mobilized both Monday evening and Tuesday morning as part of the search. The firefighters used thermal-imaging gear in their searches.
Also, members of the town’s volunteer-based Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) were mobilized to look for Mr Allen. CERT members searched Monday night and also were being mobilized on Tuesday morning when Mr Allen was found.
“This was a team effort, there’s no doubt about it,” Chief Kehoe said. “It was a collaborative effort of many, many agencies.
“He was found unharmed [through the] tremendous effort from the personnel of the many agencies,” the police chief said.
Maureen Will, town director of emergency communications, said that 15 CERT members were involved in the search on Monday night.
One CERT member used a small helicopter-style drone to provide a video image of the terrain from a high vantage point in seeking to find Mr Allen.
Such CERT teams are employed in emergency situations to aid authorities in providing public services.
Also, Ms Will praised the intensive work of the town’s radio dispatchers at the Newtown Emergency Communications Center during the search for Mr Allen.
“Whatever was asked of them, they did it… I’m very proud of them,” she said.