Porthcawl dementia patient missing for 30 hours found in ditch

  • Published
Media caption,

PC Amy Rowlands said she could not stand the idea of a missing man spending one more night outside

The family of a dementia patient who went missing for more than 30 hours have praised an off-duty police officer who found him in a ditch.

Joseph Hughes, 85, from Porthcawl, Bridgend, vanished after going for a walk from his care home on Saturday.

After initially thinking he could not have gone far, Mr Hughes's son, Martin and his wife, Linda, were "distraught" when they realised he was missing.

He was found on Sunday in a ditch by an off-duty police officer named Amy.

"We know if Amy had not found him that night he would have been in that ditch another night because there was absolutely no way any of us would have expected to have found him there," Linda said.

"She said it was gut-instinct that led her to where he was."

Image source, family photo
Image caption,
Joseph Hughes was found in a ditch by an off-duty police officer

Linda said she, and her husband Martin, were "distraught" as the search for Joseph drew on.

She said the family were left wondering where else anybody could look to find Joseph, with "all the area" seemingly covered.

Then the phone rang.

"We actually got a phone call to say he had been found by Amy," Linda said.

"That is what we want to highlight, Amy who was on her day off, and couldn't rest because she works with the helicopter services and police from St Athan [in Vale of Glamorgan].

"She was devastated that their helicopter couldn't go up on Saturday evening."

Amy felt she had a duty-of-care so went out to look for Joseph on her bike, Linda said.

Linda praised the "amazing" work everyone did to help "from ground level to helicopter pilots".

Martin said "nearly everybody I spoke to in Porthcawl were looking," as well as a police helicopter from Exeter.

"I was a little bit worried but nobody was giving up. There were still dozens of officers and the coastguard, you could still hear the helicopter going over at five or six in the morning."

Image caption,
Linda and Martin Hughes praised the officer who found him

Afterwards they spoke to Amy.

Martin said she took the view: "This is what I do, this is my job anyway."

"We spoke to her where my father was found in the ditch and tried to give her all the praise we could, she was very selfless," he said.

"She took all of the sightings that there were, and looked at what looked like a logical route from the care home and followed that, she clearly knows the search patterns she should be using."

Linda said she told them "her reward was finding Joe".

Image source, family photo
Image caption,
Joseph has since returned to his care home

She added: "Even after she had found him, and we were waiting for the specialist services, to get Joseph out of the ditch, she stayed the whole time because she just wanted to see it through and see that he was OK.

"She also said she was led by a lot of instinct and just had a gut feeling she was going to find him and was not prepared to give up until she had."

Before she left she told her children she had to "go out and find somebody's granddad".

Joseph went to hospital on Sunday night to be checked out, but has since returned to his care home.

Martin told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast on Wednesday: "I visited him yesterday and he doesn't remember it.

"He's all sprightly and enjoying his time at the home again. It's been and gone for him."