LPD Captain Meyer: Well-Coordinated Search Saved Elderly Lakewood Man’s Life; Letter From Search Coordinator Sgt. Shimonovich

It was the professionally-coordinated search which saved an elderly Fairways resident’s life, officials say. Officials are referring to the efforts of the various emergency agencies the town is lucky enough to possess, which saved Mr. Silverman’s life.

The multi-agency frantic search began late Sunday evening, and lasted into the wee hours of the morning, when the 85 year old was found – appearing lifeless, in the bushes.

Had it not been for the perfectly coordinated search efforts and team-work however, the story could have had a very tragic ending.

“When I was contacted and arrived on scene, it was clear they had the search well under way”, says Police Captain Gregory Meyer, who spent the night searching along with the other Lakewood agencies. “The inter-agency coordination and cooperation was clearly evident.”

Leading the search and rescue efforts, was shift-commander Sergeant Rob Shimonovich. The Sergeant relayed the fist-hand accounts to TLS:

“First I would like to say how invaluable of a resource we have in our community that being Hatzolah, Chaverim, and LCSW. I would like to talk about a particular incident that took place on the late evening hours of December 1st into the morning hours of December 2nd. Lakewood Police was dispatched to 35 Morning Glory Rd. in reference to an elderly male who left his residence and was missing for about 45 minutes.

Lakewood Police quickly arrived on scene. Upon hearing the nature of the incident, I immediately responded as well. Upon our arrival joined by several members of Lakewood EMS we began a perimeter search on foot and by vehicle of the development.

Upon gaining further information from the wife of Ruben Silverman, it was discovered that he was an 85 year old Jewish male suffering from dementia and had a history of leaving the residence, but due to the worsening of his condition and his deteriorating health it was learned that he could be in grave danger.

Due to the weather conditions we knew we would have to act fast. A call-out was made to the Ocean County K-9 unit and an officer was instructed to pick up the thermal imaging SUV to search the wooded area’s which covers a vast majority of the community’s outskirts.

Coordinated with the other on duty Sergeants, it was determined that we needed higher numbers in man-power if we were going to be successful in funding Mr Silverman.

I advised dispatch who also put forth a great effort in relaying information to contact Chaverim and see if they would assist in a search and rescue effort to locate Ruben Silverman. A call-out was also made to the State police for a helicopter to assist with a infra-red locator, but due to the weather conditions where the helicopter was coming from, this effort was impossible.

Chaverim answered in the assist and quickly arrived on scene, joined by LCSW and Hatzolah members. A command post was quickly set up and a search plan was methodically prepared by Yehuda, Ace, Rabbi Ehrman and I.

Approximately thirty members of the three agencies quickly responded and took grid areas that were assigned to them.

As Lakewood Police officers, Chaverim, LCSW, Hatzolah, Lakewood EMS and Ocean County K9, worked together searching high and low, it seemed as if it was one big agency. Everyone joined together in this effort and worked as a team.

However, it was not until all areas were checked several times over that Mr. Silverman was located.

Mr. Silverman was located approximately ten yards into the wooded area between Holly Drive and the Fairways Club House laying silently, flat on the ground, stuck in the brush, cold and unable to get up.

Members quickly advised command and members of Hatzolah and EMS along with officers, Captain Meyer and I, quickly responded to assist with medical attention and rescue efforts. Upon arrival, it was witnessed that Mr. Silverman did not know where he was and was very cold, shivering and scared. Efforts were immediately made to remove him from the area in a medical fashion and he was transported to Kimball Medical Center for treatment. Family members were made aware and were assisted by Lakewood Police with transport to the hospital.

A special recognition should be given to the Chaverim and LCSW member who located Mr. Silverman. At the same, every member in the the effort should be given recognition for going above and beyond their duties. This is a prime example of how Chaverim, Hatzolah, LCSW, Lakewood EMS, and the Ocean County Sheriffs Department are invaluable resources and how the agency’s joint efforts with hand-in-hand communication and team-work solves an incident which due to manpower and darkness made it so difficult to police.”

Captain Gregory Meyer – who oversees all the shifts, had nothing but praise for Sgt. Shimonovich and the others who joined the desperate search.

“Sgt. Shimonovich did a great job coordinating the search with Sgts. Finnegan and Dalton, and First Aid, EMS, Chaverim and LCSW units”, Captain Meyer said. “No stone was left unturned.”

PHOTOS from the scene.

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