Missing Md. Alzheimer's patient rescued by helicopter, infra-red camera

Pilot Todd Dolihite

A missing Alzheimer's patient from Brandywine was rescued thanks to a police helicopter equipped with an infra-red camera.

From high above, it was a matter of life and death late Thursday night. The search for the man, in his 70s, was already three hours old.

The property just off of Cherry Tree Crossing is 241 acres of woods and farmland.

Prince George's County Police say the elderly man suffered from Alzheimer's disease. And time was essential.

Pilot Todd Dolihite was behind the controls.

"When it does happen it's something we jump on right away," he says. "It's a situation that touches everyone in the family.

"When the helicopter launched it was cold, it was extremely windy, and it was pitch black.

"Windy, very bumpy we were getting bumped pretty good.... There were times you couldn't see anything outside the aircraft."

The camera revealed a hot spot, indicating a man beneath a tree. Another officer, on the ground nearby, immediately moved in and found the man.

A relative who didn't want to speak on camera later learned the man left the house while his caretaker slept. He walked about a quarter of a mile in the woods, got lost, tripped, and fell.

He's back home from the hospital. And his life was probably saved thanks to eyes in the sky and a heat seeking camera.