AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A 71-year old man has been found safe and sound in Auburn after his roommate reported him missing, but his disappearance sparked one of the first silver alerts in a Maine city.
A silver alert was issued for Roger Connell Wednesday morning, but 6 hours later he was found about a mile away -staying at a friend's place on Broad Street.
This is the first time the Auburn Police Department has enacted a silver alert, but the city itself was instrumental in starting up the alert system just two years ago.
The search for 71-year old Roger Connell was just one hour away from turning into a massive effort.
Auburn police hit the streets first, asking neighbors if they'd seen him. Connell turned out to be just fine, but that's not always the case when an elderly person goes missing in Maine.
"Somebody with Alzheimer's or dementia, they could be determined in their mind to get somewhere they think they know where they're going," says Auburn Deputy Chief Jason Moen.
He would know. In April of 2009, William Young -- who suffered from Alzheimer's -- got in his car and disappeared from his home in Auburn. An official search wasn't launched until a few days later, but by then it was too late.
"[Young] ended up about 150 miles away up near Moosehead Lake and his body was found about 5 days afterwards."
Sparked, in part, by Young's death, Auburn police helped shed light on other states using the silver alert. Governor John Baldacci signed it into legislation in Maine one year later in the spring of 2010.
Modeled after the amber alert for children, the silver alert allows law enforcement agencies to ignore the normal 24 hour waiting period, and spread the message through the media and turnpike signage - getting all eyes involved immediately.
"Had we had the silver alert system back in 2009 when Mr. Young went missing, I think it would have made a huge difference," says Moen.
Which is why Moen wasn't waiting this time around. While the silver alert turned out to be unnecessary during Wednesday's search, Moen says it's better to be safe than sorry.