An 8-year-old boy was honored Wednesday for locating a missing 83-year-old man who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and had wandered off in Lakewood, authorities said.
Roger Dunworth wandered away from his residence on the 4000 block of Marber Avenue in Lakewood around 11:33 a.m. Sunday, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said. Deputies from the Lakewood Station launched an investigation shortly after to find him.
Deputies learned that Dunworth was a part of the Project Lifesaver program, which is designed to protect and quickly locate people with cognitive disorders, according to its website. They alerted the department’s Mental Evaluation Team, which is the lead law enforcement agency for the Project Lifesaver program, and dispatched three ground units and a helicopter to find the missing man, deputies said.
While officials coordinated the search, neighbors in the area learned that Dunworth was missing and they too began looking for him. One of the people on the search team was 8-year-old Jaxon Opdyke, who was with his mother and grandmother.
While searching the area from inside a car for over an hour, Opdyke spotted Dunworth.
“Look! Down that street,” the 8-year-old said after spotting a person fitting the description of Dunworth, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities say that once they got closer, Opdyke’s grandmother asked, “Hey, are you Roger?” and Dunworth replied, “Yeah, I could sure use a ride.”
The family notified the Mental Evaluation Team, who positively identified the man and reunited him with his own family.
Dunworth was unharmed, in good spirits and appreciative to return home safely, according to the department.
After the reunion, the Sheriff’s Department presented Opdyke with a badge sticker, making him a deputy for the day.
On Wednesday, the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station and officials from the city presented Opdyke with gifts of appreciation for his help, including a pin similar to the one Lakewood deputies wear.
“One of our dearest held values is neighbors helping neighbors, people stepping up to help their fellow resident here in the city of Lakewood,” Lakewood Mayor Todd Rogers said. He then thanked the boy “for being Lakewood’s newest hero.”