MARYSVILLE (CBS13) – Missing for about 36 hours, an elderly man with dementia was found alive after falling 20 feet down an embankment.
“Law enforcement, and search and rescue teams were amazing. They never stopped,” said the man’s son.
John Hughes of Marysville is 70 years old. His family says he was laying in a ditch for about 30 hours.
CBS13 had a chance to speak with Hughes for a few minutes Monday night while in recovery at Rideout Regional Medical Center. While he was a bit bruised up, he was in a good spirits and walking around.
“Are you doing OK?” we asked. “So far so good,” said Hughes.
“I’m so grateful to have him back. I was just hoping he wasn’t suffering,” said his wife Donna.
Donna says their home security cameras showed her husband walking out of their Marysville home just shy of 2 a.m. Saturday while she was sleeping.
“When I got up in the morning at 6:30 a.m., I checked the front door to let the dog out, and the doors were unlocked,” she said.
The area Hughes was found in is fairly remote, in thick brush, next to the railroad tracks in Olivehurst off Arboga Road.
His family says given his dementia, every hour he was missing was heart wrenching.
“The next day Sunday was worse, ’cause we weren’t sure. People kept telling me ‘don’t worry we’re gonna find him’ when they knew the odds were not good,” said Donna.
A deputy with the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department recalled seeing Hughes out walking hours before he was even reported missing.
“The deputy remembered him, and that’s when they started concentrating on that one area and set up a grid,” said Donna.
She says Yuba County Sheriffs’ search and rescue teams worked tirelessly to find him.
“They brought up a helicopter; they were making announcements in the neighborhoods. They were going door to door,” she said.
And when the family finally got that call.
“It was like Christmas when you’re like five, everyone was so excited. I gave him a big kiss on that dirty beard,” said Donna.
While grateful to see his father, it a tough moment for his son.
“As soon as we got the call, me and my brother rushed there, we wanted to be the first ones there, and watching him always be a strong man, then seeing him laying there, was hard,” said John Edward Hughes II.
And Hughes was found right next to a small body of water, but thankfully he missed it by about a foot.
Now, this father of 4 boys, and a devoted husband married 49 years is recovering in his hospital bed, ready to go home.
“I’m happy, I’m grateful and hoping I cAn spend a lot more years with him,” said his son.
Hughes and the family are extremely thankful to the search and rescue teams, the community members, medical staff and everyone who helped find their loved one.