INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Deputies trekked through 17 acres of brush Monday in the dark while using technology to track a Project Lifesaver bracelet, leading them to find an 86-year-old man reported missing earlier that day.
Deputies found the man – identified as Dan Wohlenberg – safe and sleeping under palmetto bushes on his property, where he lives with his wife, a news release states. It was unknown if Wohlenberg had any medical conditions or if he had previously wandered from the home.
“Project Lifesaver saved Mr. Wohlenberg’s life Monday night. Were it not for this program, we would have spent hours trying to locate Mr. Wohlenberg. We know we have many more people in our county who should have Project Lifesaver bracelets, as evinced by our frequent searches for those without bracelets,” Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said in a statement. “The program was designed by former law enforcement for speedy recovery of those who may wander. We hope anyone out there with a family member or friend in need of this technology hears about the program and has them sign up before they go missing.”
Deputies said Vona Wohlenberg called law enforcement about 9 p.m. Monday to report her husband, Dan, missing from their home in the 13800 block of 99th Street, Fellsmere. Vona Wohlenberg told deputies she believed her husband was missing for an hour and wandered from their 17-acre property on foot.
Deputies learned Dan Wohlenberg had on a Project Lifesaver bracelet – which is used for people who have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, or anyone who might go missing. The bracelet uses a GPS tracking system that sends out radio frequencies, which helped deputies track down Dan Wohlenberg’s location, sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said.
After finding the missing man, deputies reunited Dan Wohlenberg with his wife, deputies said.
The Sheriff’s Office has participated in Project Lifesaver for more than a decade.
Project Lifesaver is a community based, public safety nonprofit organization that provides law enforcement, fire rescue and care givers with a program designed to protect and quickly locate those with cognitive disorders who are likely to wander. The organization was founded in 1999 in Chesapeake, Virginia, according to officials.
The local program is administered by the Alzheimer and Parkinson Association of Indian River County. Those who want more information on Project Lifesaver can visit their website.
Photos provided by Indian River County Sheriff’s Office