MISHAWAKA — Local police say they often get calls from worried parents or caregivers asking for help finding a loved one who has wandered off. Mishawaka police say it happens at least once a week. A little-known program offered in our area can help offer some peace of mind.
Angela Motheral and her son, Joey Dellinger, have come a long way. 26-year-old Dellinger has a traumatic brain injury caused by a car accident and then a suicide attempt.
“When we found him in 2010, he was just like a vegetable,” says Motheral. “We lost him four times. When he came home he couldn’t walk, talk, eat.”
For the most part, his body has healed but his brain remains damaged.
“He has short term memory loss and also has long term memory loss,” says Motheral. “When he goes he may not know how to get back.”
It is why she signed him up for Project Lifesaver. He now wears a tracking device that police can use to find him if he gets lost.
Mishawaka Police Department Assistant Chief Dan Gebo is in charge of the program. He demonstrated how the program works using a transmitter and the tracking device.
“Once you turn the device on, you hear a chirp and that is the noise we are looking for when we are looking for somebody,” says Gebo.
Right now, eight people are signed up in Mishawaka — many of those are children with autism, but the program can work for the elderly or people like Dellinger.
Once a caregiver realizes their loved one is missing, they call 911 and a team of searchers arrive.
The technology is easy to use. It can track people up to a mile away and allows searchers to pinpoint an exact location — even if that person is hurt or hiding.
For Dellinger’s mom, it is about peace of mind, because after nearly losing her son before she will do anything to protect him.
There are several local police and fire departments that offer this program.
You can visit Project Lifesaver’s website for a quick search: http://www.projectlifesaver.org/
St. Joseph County Triad sponsors the project locally.