• Last modified 422 days ago (April 2, 2023)


Missing silver alert target found uninjured

Staff writer

A missing 85-year-old from Andover, target of a silver alert and six hours of exhaustive searches Saturday after his pickup was found along US-50 1½ miles southwest of Florence, was found alive and well by a private citizen an hour after the search was suspended Saturday night.

A female caller told Marion County dispatchers at 11:31 p.m. that she had found David Sawdy along Wagon Wheel Rd., just north of 90th Rd. — 2½ miles south of where his eastbound silver 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe had been found parked along the highway’s shoulder.

Marion ambulance was summoned to check him, but dispatchers said the female caller told them “he is not injured; he just says that he is cold.” At the time, the temperature in the area was 46 degrees.

Sawdy’s truck, missing since noon Friday, was discovered by a passer-by at 4:09 p.m. Saturday.

Law enforcement officers from Marion, Butler, Chase, Harvey, and Sedgwick Counties and from Kansas Highway Patrol searched for him until 10:30 p.m. Saturday before suspending operations because of darkness.

Sawdy had been the subject of a statewide silver alert, issued when a dementia sufferer is reported missing, since Friday night. He last had been seen on surveillance video Friday afternoon driving north on Ridge Rd. from 13th St. in west Wichita.

David Sawdy

Deputy Aaron Christner was dispatched to the pickup’s location in Marion County and verified at 4:41 p.m. Saturday that the vehicle was Sawdy’s.

About an hour later, a citizen, who apparently had been monitoring radio transmissions, called dispatchers to say he had seen the pickup parked at that location nearly 12 hours earlier, at 6:15 a.m.

Deputy Bruce Burke was sent to Flying Eagle Truck Stop in Florence to see whether Sawdy might have been seen there.

Dispatchers contacted area hospitals to see whether anyone matching Sawdy’s description had been brought in for treatment.

Deputy Aaron Slater joined Burke and Christner, as did Undersheriff Larry Starkey, who was seen conferring with Sawdy’s relatives, who arrived around 6 p.m.

Deputies Matt Regier, James Philpott, and Presley Mabe joined those at the scene. Chase County provided a drone to assist in the search.

Deputy Joshua Meliza found footprints consistent with tennis shoes Sawdy was thought to be wearing leading into a wooded area along Doyle Creek to the south. Both of Marion County’s police dogs and a bloodhound from Butler County attempted to track Sawdy’s scent.

A second passer-by reported that she had seen a person who might have been Sawdy standing at 7 p.m. Friday along US-50 near where the pickup was found. A third caller later reported possibly seeing Sawdy at 1:30 or 2 p.m. Saturday.

The bloodhound search continued until just after sunset. Kansas Highway Patrol then conducted a helicopter search of the area and of US-50 between Peabody and Florence using spotlights and infrared imaging.

Deputies continued to search nearby properties well after darkness set in, and engineers on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line running adjacent to the highway were alerted.

By 10:30 p.m., however, most activity had ceased.

“This is probably all we’re going to do tonight,” Starkey said at the time.

Sawdy’s daughter had reported him missing around 4 p.m. Friday, according to Captain Tom Gresham of Andover police.

“The last time he was known to be home was noon yesterday,” Gresham said, noting that this had been during a phone conversation from a land line at his home.

There was no immediate indication where Sawdy might have been after abandoning his pickup or how long he might have been there.

Staff writer Deb Gruver contributed to this story. An earlier version incorrectly reported that Sheriff Jeff Soyez had been on the scene.

Last modified April 2, 2023