GAINESVILLE, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - It’s the happy ending Grace DeCastro had been praying for since last Tuesday night.
“He's covered, covered in bug bites, but he's alive,” Grace told The News Station.
Smartphone video taken by Gainesville Police shows Grace and her adult children hugging Walcott as he lay on a stretcher while first responders wheeled him into a waiting ambulance. Grace says it was dinner time a week ago today she went to check on her husband and he was gone.
“He just walked out,” she says her husband wandered off.
Walcott, 66, was diagnosed with dementia in November. After doing a quick search and not finding Walcott, Grace and her son called 911 to report Walcott missing. Gainesville Police immediately started looking that night, their dogs were not able to track Walcott’s scent. Wednesday detectives began a more extensive search, bringing in more man power and using their helicopter, still no sign of Walcott.
“What’s been going through your head,” The News Station’s Holly Bristow asked Grace DeCastro. “Where is he. Please surface,” said Grace Decastro.
On Tuesday morning, Gainesville Police announced another search, a few strangers reached volunteering to help detectives look around. Grace says less than an hour after today’s search began, her phone was ringing. Gainesville Police told her Walcott had been found in the woods less than 300 yards from his home.
“I’m just so thankful. Thankful to GPD, the community, friends, family and even strangers we don't even know. Thank you! God bless you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” Grace said.
Gainesville Police say when they found Walcott, he told detectives that he was on his way to New England. GPD says he was severely dehydrated and confused and had no idea he’d been missing for a week.