Missing man found in Florida

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An elderly Meadville man missing since Sunday afternoon has beenfound alive and well in central Florida, more than 500 miles fromhome, a family member said Tuesday morning.

Jack R. Nixon, 89, was found and safely detained by the MarionCounty Sheriff’s Department in Ocala, Fla., late Monday night, morethan 30 hours after he set out on what was supposed to be a shorttrip to neighboring Bude. Nixon apparently lost his way and droveacross three other states while trying to find his way back to U.S.Highway 98, which he knew would take him home, said stepson KenStroud.

“Last I talked to him, they were doing a medical assessment tofind out what condition he was in because he hasn’t had hismedicine in several days,” Stroud said. “He was as well as he hadbeen the whole time. He was still confused.”

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Stroud said local authorities with the Franklin County Sheriff’sDepartment tracked Nixon on his errant journey by monitoring hiscredit card transactions whenever he stopped to buy gas. When hestopped in Ocala, law enforcement was notified quickly and foundNixon shortly after he left the gas station.

The breakthrough in the hunt came just before the Ocala hitregistered, when an off-duty police officer from Mississippiencountered Nixon in Lake City, Fla.

Stroud said the officer gave his stepfather directions, got backon the highway and saw a Silver Alert – a nationwide messagingsystem activated when elderly people go missing – on a billboard.He immediately called in the information that allowed authoritiesto pinpoint on the area.

“That got us within 30 minutes of Jack’s trail,” Stroudsaid.

Nixon left his home in Meadville Sunday afternoon, intending ona short trip to pick up milk and eggs at the grocery store and rideby and look at a piece of property he owned in Bude. He somehowlost his way and spent the next day and a half trying to get homevia Highway 98, taking several wrong turns along the way.

Nixon was first encountered in Bogalusa, La., asking a gasstation clerk for directions to the highway, Stroud said.

“She didn’t realize he wasn’t going to be able to follow herdirections. When they found him in Ocala, he was still trying tofollow Highway 98,” he said. “We think he may have gone all the wayacross Florida on Highway 98.”

Authorities are still putting together the pieces of Nixon’sjourney, but a likely scenario is that he traveled north onInterstate 59 to Hattiesburg and turned east onto Highway 98instead of west, Stroud speculated. The kink in that story is awelcome station employee in Pearlington on the Mississippi coastclaims to have spotted Nixon around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

“That is one of the mysteries,” Stroud said.