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State Police Search and Tactical Units, Russell Police Locate Missing Elderly Man in Woods



On the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, Troopers from the State Police-Russell Barracks and members of the Massachusetts State Police K9 Unit, Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), and Air Wing responded to assist Russell Police with the search for a missing 87-year-old man with dementia. The man had been last seen shortly after noon in the area of Blandford Road.


Russell and State Police patrols were checking area homes and businesses for the man. Meanwhile, MSP K9 teams observed several footprints in the snow leading eastward from a nearby residential driveway down a steep embankment into the woods. MSP K9 Unit Trooper Ken Hanchett deployed his partner, Orry, who quickly acquired a scent and began to pull down the hill. Upon reaching the bottom, Trooper Hanchett and Orry tracked across a flooded and frozen stretch of ground into a clearing. Once in the clearing, Orry showed a proximity alert and soon pulled intensely across another overgrown and frozen area to a large tree. They were assisted on the track by K9 Trooper John Areche and SERT Trooper Timothy Fanion.


Simultaneously, MSP Air 4, one of the helicopters in the Department’s Air Wing, was conducting an aerial search and observed a heat signature in the vicinity of the K9 team. As Orry pulled toward the tree, Trooper Hanchett observed the elderly man lying on the ground. By this point it was approximately 8 PM, nearly eight hours after the man was last seen.


Troopers Hanchett, Areche, and Fanion began rendering emergency first aid. Additional SERT Troopers responded to the location. Troopers carried the man, who was non-ambulatory, to a waiting ambulance, which transported him to a nearby hospital for treatment of cold exposure injuries.


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