PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Petersburg veteran who went missing Monday morning while heading to the hospital has been located.
Louis Wingard Jr. was found safe in Abington, PA, according to his family.
Petersburg Police has issued and alert for the missing 77-year-old Tuesday.
"We're just so relieved," said Wingard's step-daughter Keisha Hailstock.
Wingard was expected to be on his way to McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond but did not show up for his appointment.
"When my mom got back to the house he was already gone," Hailstock said. "She was thrown off because she thought they were going to go together."
Hailstock said she didn't find out about her step-father's disappearance until late Monday night.
"I got up at about 5:30 Tuesday morning and I literally drove for 8 hours just around the city," she said. "I went all the way up to Bowling Green, off the exits and just going around looking for his car up and down Jeff Davis Highway and around the VA Hospital."
Wingard's step-daughter added she posted to social media, in hopes of getting tips from the community.
Hailstock said she was contacted by a veterinary clinic in Varina, that said Wingard had stopped by Monday asking for directions to the VA hospital.
"When she told me the things that he said I knew it was him, because when I put my post up I said these are the things you're going to see... he's going to talk about being in the military, he's not going to tell you that he's lost, he's going to be up-beat and chipper and that's what he was doing," she explained.
Tuesday morning Abington County Police, located in Pennsylvania, contacted the family to tell them Wingard had been located, according to Hailstock.
"He was sitting in a vehicle outside of a business," she said. "While he was sitting there someone came out and realized he was disoriented and contacted police."
Hailstock added Wingard has early onset dementia, and the family was worried about whether he had been taking his medication.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Hailstock said her family was traveling to Abington to reunite with Wingard. She also captured the reunion on video.
"I feel alright!" Wingard said in the video. "Me and the police talked for a little while… [We talked about] who I am and where I'm going."
In the video Hailstock said her step-father was still somewhat confused, thinking he was in Florida, which is what she said he told police when he was found.
She added that Wingard used to live in Jacksonville, Florida and believes he thought he was heading there to see one of his children.
Now with her step-father located, she can't help but thank the community, and law enforcement for all that was done.
"At times like this people come out and you feel the love, and the genuine love of just wanting to help someone out," Hailstock said.
In another Facebook post from Hailstock Wednesday, she wrote about officer who helped her step-father:
Hailstock said Wingard is a Vietnam veteran and worked for the Greensville Correctional System for 24 years and recently retired.
She also offered advice for other families who may go through this same situation.
"Number one, never give up," Hailstock said. "The power of prayer, social media and getting the information out [helps]. Law enforcement also plays an important role, keeping them updated… we can't thank everyone enough."
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