11-year-old finds missing Campbell man

July 11, 2009 6:48:07 PM PDT
It was the outcome everyone had hoped for but few expected. A Campbell man with Alzheimers who had been missing for ten days was found alive.

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Search teams, electronic surveillance and a network of Facebook friends were all pressed into service to help find Ross Abinanti, but it took a sharp 11-year-old to accomplish what all the adults could not.

"We're above and beyond happy. We haven't slept in days," said Abinati's son-in-law Bret-Jordan Kreiensieck.

The joy and relief of a worried family was shared by dozens of friends and volunteers who spent the past ten days looking for 63-year-old Ross Abinanti of Campbell. Abinanti was at a hospital Saturday being treated for dehydration.

He was discovered Friday night in a dry creek bed behind a restaurant. The shirt, cap and shoes he was wearing were scattered among nearby rocks.

"So, we called the sheriff's department. Sheriff's department got here and recognized who the guy was and called the Campbell Police Department and got the emergency services out here for him," said restaurant owner Matt Wright.

Abinanti has dementia and has been unable to tell his family how he got from a parking garage in downtown Campbell to the creek in Saratoga, a distance of five miles.

"Most people with Alzheimer's or dementia that go missing are found within five to 10 miles from the last place seen. This was 5.2 miles exactly," explained Kreiensieck.

While there is a sink, water supply and a portable toilet behind the restaurant, it does not appear Abinanti took advantage of them.

"I'm pleasantly surprised based on the fact that he still had all the money with him that he had left with. So, we don't know whether he was able to get food or water but luckily, it just sounds like the dehydration issues were the most of the problems," said Police Sgt. Gary Berg.

Search teams were organized to locate Abinanti, who was wearing a satellite-linked tracking bracelet. However, no confirmed signal was ever detected. Friends set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account to enlist help. 1700 people were following the search on Facebook.

The case broke Friday night when 11-year-old Logan Roberts and his fellow little league team members found Abinanti by the creek.

"He's been missing for 10 days and his family was very worried about him," the boy was told. "I didn't know at the time," he replied. "So, you've done a good deed."

The Abinanti family was so grateful to Logan Roberts and his teammates that they bought them pizzas and soft drinks Saturday afternoon.

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