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Injured, missing man, 69, tracked down by Hernando sheriff’s chopper

The man suffers from the onset of dementia and has nerve damage from a previous fall, his daughter told deputies.
A night vision camera from a Hernando sheriff's helicopter shows a missing, injured man, left, and deputies approaching in the dark through a heavily wooded area to rescue him.
A night vision camera from a Hernando sheriff's helicopter shows a missing, injured man, left, and deputies approaching in the dark through a heavily wooded area to rescue him. [ Hernando County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Dec. 9, 2021|Updated Dec. 9, 2021

NOBLETON — A sheriff’s helicopter crew spotted a missing, injured man lying in a heavily wooded area in the dark and guided deputies on the ground who rescued him.

The man, 69, had disappeared after going out to check the mail at his rural home near Nobleton and was missing for more than nine hours before he was found early Wednesday, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.

The man suffers from the onset of dementia and has nerve damage from a previous fall, his daughter told deputies. Deputies carried the man to a waiting ambulance and he was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Media Release HCSO Aviation Unit Helps Locate Missing Man Date: December 9, 2021 On 12-07-2021 at 5:11 p.m., Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of Lake Lindsay Road in reference to a report of a missing person. The caller advised she last saw her father at 3 p.m. when he went to go check the mail and go for a walk. The woman believed her father was either lost in the woods or possibly injured. The woman further advised her father, 69, suffers from the onset of dementia and has nerve damage from a previous fall. Deputies initially responded to the area of Osage Street and Seminole Boulevard to search for the missing man. The HCSO K-9 Unit and Aviation Unit responded to assist in the search. Several other agencies assisted in the search including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a bloodhound from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. While the search was ongoing, a family member was able to contact the missing man via his cellular phone. The man advised he was injured but could hear the helicopter overhead. The Aviation Unit was able to locate the man just after midnight lying on his back in the woods. They directed deputies on the ground to the man’s location. After assessing the man’s injuries, deputies carried the injured man out of the heavily wooded area to a waiting ambulance. He was transported to Oak Hill Hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries. The man is expected to make a full recovery. The Office of Sheriff: The Office of the Sheriff is established by the Florida Constitution. As a constitutional officer, the Sheriff has the exclusive authority to administer his or her agency and is responsible for preserving the peace throughout the entire county, carrying out the laws of the state, the orders of Florida courts, and the ordinances of the Board of County Commissioners. The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement and correctional officer of the county. Sheriff Al Nienhuis was initially appointed as the Sheriff of Hernando County by the Governor in January of 2011. He was then elected by the people of Hernando County in 2012, ran unopposed in 2016, and was re-elected in 2020. Sheriff Nienhuis remains accountable to the people of Hernando County.

Posted by Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, December 9, 2021

The daughter reported the man missing just after 5 p.m. Tuesday and they started their search near Osage Street and Seminole Boulevard northwest of Nobleton on the Withlacoochee River.

The woman said she last saw her father just after 3 p.m. and that he might be injured or lost in the woods.

Joining in the search were the Sheriff’s Office aviation and K-9 units as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a bloodhound from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.

While the search was underway, a family member was able to contact the missing man via his cellphone, the Sheriff’s Office said. The man said he was injured and could hear the helicopter overhead.

The Aviation Unit located the man just after midnight. A four-minute video shows deputies in the helicopter honing in on the man using a night-vision camera as deputies on the ground approach him.

“He’s laying down, right there ... there they go,” a deputy in the helicopter says at one point. “Another 40 feet and they’ve got him.”

The Sheriff’s Office did not release the man’s name.

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