At 8:37 am, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to 375 SW Old Spanish Road due to a missing elderly man.
The preliminary investigation revealed that Richard Irving Preston, 87 was missing from the home he shares with his wife. When a home health worker arrived at 8:30 am to care for the couple, she found their car parked inside the chained gate to the property, running with no one around. She called a nearby son, Ronald Preston who responded. When Ronald checked the home he located his mother, Claire Preston, 89 lying in the bathroom with minor injuries to her leg and shoulder. While Ronald was calling 911 for his mother, he attempted to locate his father who was not in the home. It is believed Claire fell sometime during the night. Additionally, family members believe Richard became upset after finding his wife injured and went to get help.
Both Richard and Claire were last seen last night near 9 pm when they were dropped off at their home by a relative after dinner.
Upon arrival deputies set a perimeter, conducted a neighborhood canvas and a detective was notified. A regional BOLO was sent out alerting law enforcement in the area of the situation. Sheriff’s Office K9 teams and a K9 team from Baker Correctional (DOC) began actively searching the surrounding area. Personnel from FWC and Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office joined in the search.
At around 12:30 pm, a neighbor who had been made aware of the search located Richard in the back yard of their home at 191 Old Spanish Rd.
Lifeguard EMS checked Richard, they found him to be in stable condition and he was reunited with his very relieved family.
The unified response of law enforcement agencies involved and the community partnership resulted in the successful and timely outcome of this case.