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Leon County Man Wanders Away

There were some frightening moments for a Leon County family Wednesday as their mentally disabled brother disappeared again. Time is critical, especially in winter when deputies are called out to track those who wander.

The deputies and the dogs were out along Wakulla Springs Highway Wednesday morning searching for 61-year-old Matthew Ash.

Maggie Ash Deadwilder says, "This is a major highway and he could get hit by a car, and not only that, the last time he left we didn't find him until the next day, the sheriff found him, and see, it's cold."

According to family members Ash is mentally disabled and on medication, and has wandered away once before.

It sounds familiar to Brooks Johnson who works with Alzheimer's patients. He says consider getting a tracking device and don't wait too long before calling 911 to track a missing relative with Alzheimer’s, mental illness or Down's syndrome.

Brooks Johnson says, "50 percent of patients do not make it, they are found deceased after 24 hours of being lost."

Luckily, Matthew Ash was found coming out of the woods about a mile from his home and was brought back safe a few hours after he disappeared, but his sister says she now plans to outfit him with one of those tracking bracelets. If she can't stop the wandering, maybe she can stop the worrying.

Maggie adds, "That would be good for him to help him know where he's at and help people find him easy."

The Leon County Sheriff's Office and the Alzheimer's Project of Tallahassee offer the tracking bracelets as part of "Project Lifesaver." Thus far, donations have allowed them to offer the bracelets for free.


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