2009-04-23 / Community

Missing man found in T.O.

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

When a vulnerable resident went missing on Saturday, authorities used every means available to help find him, including the T.O. City Alert system. The new emergency measure proved invaluable.

At around 12:35 p.m. April 18, Richard Santangelo, 90, disappeared from the Hillcrest Royale Retirement Residence near Hillcrest Drive and Moorpark Road. Police reported he was last seen exiting the facility using his walker.

Due to his age, his need for medication and a diagnosis of dementia, the Thousand Oaks Police Department began an extensive search using patrol deputies, detectives, the Thousand Oaks Disaster Assistance Response Team, East County Search and Rescue and the Canine Search and Rescue Team. But neither the expert manpower nor the highly trained dogs could find Santangelo.

Fortunately, the city recently added a new weapon to its emergency arsenal. The City Alert system was put to the test for the first time to find the lost senior citizen. With the press of a button, the alert service was activated Sunday morning and a message was sent citywide to 44,134 residents.

Land lines are automatically included in the system, spokesperson Andrew Powers said.

Those who'd gone to www.toaks.org and clicked on the T.O. City Alert to add their cellphones or emails to the system were also contacted by those means.

As phones rang throughout the city, a recording or text message was delivered. E-mails were sent. Each contact meant more people received a description of the man who needed his neighbors' help.

The new technology paid off.

The telephonebased emergency notification system produced several leads that narrowed the search area to the south end of Moorpark Road.

According to Powers, one city resident reported speaking to a man matching Santangelo's description. The resident said the man was resting on a bench by Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road.

Patrol deputies searched the surrounding area but couldn't find Santangelo. The Sheriff's Department's East County Search and Rescue Team was called in and found him in the bushes behind the building.

Santangelo appeared to be uninjured, but was transported to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center just to be safe.

He was reunited with his family at the hospital.

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