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Lee County ends program to find missing people

Posted at 11:17 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 23:17:52-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — This mother’s day Diana Getts will call her mom who may not even recognize her voice, because she’s has Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s really sad to lose my mother like this. I feel like I’ve already lost her. It’s just a matter of time,” she said.

She said her mom wanders away from home but hasn’t gone too far yet, thanks to neighbors’ help and a bracelet that can locate her if she goes too far. It’s similar to the one used by Lee County Sheriff’s Office, called Project Lifesaver

But LCSO will end that program next month. Each bracelet in the Project Lifesaver program costs about $300. Individuals have to pay for it, but sometimes grants can help pay for some of the costs. It also helps locate people with Down syndrome and autism. LCSO was not available Friday to explain why they’re ending the program.

Getts’ mom lives in Pensacola, but she said she doesn’t think getting rid of the program here is a good idea.

“No! They should not take that away,” she said. “Anything for Alzheimer’s, yeah. They need something, because they’re not in their right mind.”

Retired Captain Robert Forrest worked at LCSO when the program started in 2011. He said Project Lifesaver makes finding elderly easier and less expensive. He said searching for one person requires a lot of man power.

“Officers, deputies, volunteers, Red Cross, Helicopter if you have one. It may take hours. It may take days,” he said.

And he said he doesn’t see the need for project lifesaver going away anytime soon.

“It’s not something that’s going to go away. We’re going to continue to have this issue. We have a lot of retirees here, older citizens, that suffer from dementia,” said Forrest.

LCSO said they will collect Project Lifesaver bracelets throughout the county starting June 1st.