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Elderly patient walks away from Park Rapids facility, prompts nearly 6-hour search

PARK RAPIDS - An elderly dementia patient who wandered away from an assisted care facility Tuesday night was found after authorities used a thermal imager from the Minnesota State Patrol airship to locate him.

Temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees when the man, 64-year-old Gene Hanson, went missing.

"The likelihood of the subject surviving the night because of low temperatures would have been slim," said Lt. Matt Langer in a news release.

Care-Age Home, three miles southeast of Park Rapids, said Hanson had not been accounted for since 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. The Hubbard County Sheriff's Office was contacted nearly three hours later at 8:57 p.m.

Because of the terrain near the facility, the Sheriff's Office requested help to search for Hanson. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, equipped with thermal imaging night vision, spotted Hanson about a half-mile south of Care-Age Home at 12:13 a.m. today.

The man was taken to St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids to be examined for possible hypothermia. A Sheriff's Office news release said Hanson is in satisfactory condition this afternoon.