Lifesaver device means minutes shaved in search
That's how long it took to find Beryl Frey on Wednesday, June 24, thanks to a remarkable program that uses electronic gadgetry to find missing people. She began wearing the small transmitter that helped locate her, three weeks earlier.
It took just 17 minutes to find Ms. Frey, who has Alzheimer's disease, in a vacant home in the Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association campgrounds.
"I can tell you, it felt like 17 hours," said Captain Donald Rose, who oversees the Project Lifesaver program for the Dukes County Sheriff's Department. "There's a lot of stress involved in a search. You know somebody is out there who needs you. When you do find the person, and everybody's safe, it's the most gratifying feeling you can have. I had a smile on my face the entire night."
Capt. Rose and Sgt. Kelli Stewart arrived at the campground at 4:08 pm on Wednesday afternoon, according to the sheriff's report. Word had spread quickly through the tightly knit campground community that Ms. Frey was missing. "Most of the neighbors were out looking as well. They were looking in sheds, under porches," Mr. Rose said.
Long after it ended successfully, Mr. Rose could see some humor in a somewhat chaotic scene. As he and Sgt. Stewart set up their equipment and began the search, they found themselves playing the role of electronic Pied Pipers.
"They started following us around, hoping that we knew what we were doing," said Capt. Rose of volunteer searchers. "Thankfully, we did."
"When Capt. Rose appeared, I gave up searching," said Walter Frey, Beryl's husband. "I had total faith in his system. Everything worked the way it should."
Capt. Rose and Sgt. Stewart started searching in different areas, but almost at the same moment, their chirping receivers led them to the same location. At 4:25 pm, Ms. Frey was found in the vacant home, across Trinity Park from her own house. She was unhurt, but confused. She had gone into a vacant home and locked the doors behind her, so without the electronic equipment, searchers may not have looked inside the house for some time. "Who knows how long it would have taken to find her," said Capt. Rose.