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Missing Alzheimer’s patient, 90, found dead in Covington County

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 3:38 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 4:20 PM CST
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COVINGTON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - An elderly Slocomb man with Alzheimer’s disease was found dead days after driving into the forest alone, according to authorities.

Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman said hunters found the body of 90-year-old Roland Kelley near Overhead Bridge on U.S. 331, north of the rest area, Friday morning.

Kelley was reported missing Tuesday. Investigators determined he had driven into the forest on an access road before getting stuck in a large puddle. He then walked along a dirt path for “quite some time,” the sheriff said.

The exact cause of death was not released, but Turman said there are no signs of foul play.

“It is likely that Mr. Kelley became lost, he is an Alzheimer’s patient, became lost and he was walking around that area trying to find his way to a roadway because his vehicle was disabled, and it looks is if he laid down to go to sleep, and that’s how we discovered him,” Turman said.

The sheriff estimates Kelley died no more than 10 hours before being found.

Kelley’s remains have been returned to his family.

Turman offered some personal notes about the effects of Alzheimer’s, saying that Kelley’s family was diligent in his care, but those with dementia or Alzheimer’s can still become lost, both physically and in comprehension.

“They just become lost and then they can’t find their way back, and that’s what happened here. I have no idea where he thought he was going, but this is not the first time that this has happened in our community,” he said.

The Covington County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Andalusia Pilot Club, offers tracking devices for such patients. The Sheriff’s Senior Reserve program keeps device batteries serviceable and checks on local shut-ins. Those interested in such devices or services for their loved ones may call the sheriff’s office at 334-428-2641.

“Minutes count,” Turman said. “This man, he was not a very big man. He did not have a whole lot of body fat on him or anything, and it didn’t take a lot for him to succumb to the elements.”

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