North Bergen senior Pedro Gonzalez, 71, a resident in the Cullum building, was located in Maine in a “disoriented” state after disappearing with his car on Feb. 9. Through a combination of local public and private agencies, he was brought safely home within days.
Gonzalez’s wife, Maria Cardoso, 57, reported him missing to the NBPD, who quickly had his cell phone traced to Maine. There, state troopers located Mr. Gonzalez and brought him to a local hospital.
That’s when agencies in North Bergen kicked in to arrange for his transportation home. With coordination by NB C.A.R.E.S. and contributions from ACT NOW, CarePoint Health, and the Nicholas J. Sacco Foundation, Cardoso and a home care aid were flown to Maine. After a night in a hotel, the trio drove home, where they were greeted by Mayor Sacco, Commissioner Julio Marenco, and grateful members of the senior community in a celebration at Cullum on Feb. 15.
It turned out Gonzalez, who suffers from early onset dementia, had visited a car repair shop when his vehicle’s “check engine” light came on, and was told to drive 30 miles, a common recommendation. Instead, he apparently became confused and just kept driving, winding up in Maine.
The quick response and happy ending to the incident are the result of a unique cooperation between the police departments, the township administration, and private entities, working together to find solutions.