ELMIRA — A search-and-rescue effort by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office located a missing 89-year-old man who drove a golf cart at least 10 miles along mostly rural roads.
Somehow, he safely got from Elmira east of Vacaville to Highway 128 heading toward Winters on Monday evening. There, he entered a two-lane rural highway carrying Memorial Day traffic traveling at speeds of 60 mph and faster as it returned home from Lake Berryessa.
The cart had no lights and darkness was falling.
While a general outline of the man’s golf cart journey has emerged, the precise route remains a mystery.
“I don’t know and he was unable to tell us,” Deputy Daryl Snedeker said Wednesday.
It’s a miracle the man didn’t get hurt, he said.
Family reported the missing man at 7 p.m. Monday. They said he had left the Elmira house a short time earlier in an electric golf cart and had a history of dementia, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
Sgt. John Arabia activated the county search-and-rescue team. Then the Sheriff’s Office got a call from a motorist who reported an elderly man driving a golf cart on narrow, rural Pleasants Valley Road near Cantelow Road, about 7 miles from Elmira.
Lt. Jeff Brackett responded but didn’t see the elderly man on Pleasants Valley Road. He pulled over at Highway 128 and Pleasants Valley Road to talk to the motorist who had made the call. Then Brackett saw the elderly man in a golf cart exiting a dirt road from a field onto rural Highway 128.
Brackett drove his patrol car behind the man and tried to get him to stop. Meanwhile, Highway 128 traffic backed up and motorists honked, Snedeker said. Another patrol car came to help and the man’s journey ended around 8:30 p.m., with darkness falling.
The man appeared to be experiencing dementia and got taken by ambulance to a hospital for observation, the press release said.
“I’d love to know the route he took, how he ended up getting all that way on a golf cart,” Snedeker said. “Will we ever know? Probably not.”
Some golf carts can go for eight hours on a charge, Snedeker said.
He urged people to call law enforcement when they see something unusual. The call from the motorist who saw the man on Pleasants Valley Road brought this case to a successful conclusion, he said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.