Family thanks rescuers who found missing 78-year-old Jacksonville man alive after 3-day search

Family thanks rescuers who found missing 78-year-old Jacksonville man alive after 3-day search

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rescuers used every resource they had – from helicopters and drones to dogs and detectives – to find a missing 78-year-old Jacksonville man alive.

Germilus Nonord has dementia and went missing around 6pm on Tuesday from his Westside home, and search and rescue teams found him deep in a nearby swamp around 4pm on Thursday. As of Friday, he was recovering in hospital.

On Friday afternoon, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department held a news conference detailing the search efforts for Nonord. Jacksonville police teamed up with firefighters — asking for help from St. Louis counties. Johns, Nassau and Clay – to find him.

Authorities held a press conference Friday afternoon in the search for a missing man who was found alive. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax – All Rights Reserved.)

“I knew how many people were there,” said Wilbens Nonord, son of Germilus Nonord. “I know it was a lot.”

His son told News4JAX that his father has dementia and speaks little English. And the changing weather made the search more urgent. JFRD and JSO launched their joint Missing and Endangered Persons Search and Rescue Program – or MEPSAR – which they debuted in 2021.

“When we spend hours in a situation like this, we’re stepping it up because we know time is of the essence and it’s because of the hard work of these men and women behind me that make it happen.” Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters said.

Waters applauded search and rescue crews who found the man in the woods in a thick swamp off Connie Jean Road 46 hours after he went missing.

“It looked like an animal was moving it back and forth, but it just kept moving,” JFRD Capt. Colin Aguilar said.

Aguilar and JFRD engineer AK Buchanan spotted it on a net search and were the first to reach it after wading through water and mud all day.

“As we got closer, we could see he was there,” Aguilar said. “He was actually under a log.”

Buchanan speaks some Creole and was able to communicate with the thin, dehydrated man, leading him to an ambulance.

We said, ‘We got you. We’ll get you out of here. You’re going to be fine,” Aguilar said.

One more night in the elements, and these veteran rescuers don’t think the outcome will be good.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search this week for a missing Jacksonville man who was found alive. (Nassau County Sheriff’s Office)

His family is eternally grateful.

“I’m so happy to appreciate the whole community, everybody who came out to help us watch, all the volunteers, the sheriff’s department, the fire department,” Wilbens Nonord said.

On Friday, Germilus Nonord’s son and grandson thanked the tireless first responders, knowing that without them, this would be a different story.

“It was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Wilbens Nonord said.

While Germilus Nonord was recovering in hospital as of Friday evening, he hopes to go home soon.

Since JSO and JFRD launched the MEPSAR program in May 2021, it has been a model for other agencies across the country. Out of 96 MEPSAR searches in our area, according to officials, 95 have resulted in the finding of missing persons.

UNCUUT: Watch the full press conference authorities share details about how rescuers found a missing Jacksonville man alive.

Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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