March 5, 2020
WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–At 5:33 pm, March 4, 1010, Police Dispatch advised all available Units that an 29 year old, Autistic adult male had run away from his caregiver in the parking lot of Wegmans. Further information was relayed via the Communications Center that the adult male had a disagreement with his caregiver and ran away in the direction of the Target store. K9 Officer Zicha arrived on scene and met with the caregiver who advised him that the victim commonly runs away after an argument, but usually this occurs when they are in Hamilton Township. Therefore, the male was unfamiliar with the area of Nassau Park (including the surrounding wooded area/waterways with sundown approaching at 5:52 pm). In addition, the adult male would sometimes not return until the next day.
Multiple units arrived and began a systematic search of the nearby stores and the walking paths in & around the Nassau Park Pavilion. Traffic Officer/Drone Pilot McQuade deployed his Drone while K9 Officer Zicha & his partner K9 Hodge began a search along the wooded areas surrounding Nassau Park Pavilion including the area of the D&R Canal (*see attached photo, using thermal imaging, of K9 Officer Zicha & K9 Hodge as provided by Drone Pilot McQuade*).
The Communications Center advised Princeton PD and Lawrence Twp. of the unfolding incident and requested they check their areas that abut the Nassau Park border. As the WWPD continued their arduous store to store search for the missing man, Ptl. Pollini and Ptl. LaForge were advised by staff at Michael’s that there was a subject fitting the description of the individual. Ptl. LaForge subsequently located the male at the rear of the store. The male was ultimately reunited with the Program Manager without any further incident.
Chief Garofalo wanted to thank our partners at Princeton PD and Lawrence Twp. PD for their assistance. In addition, Chief Garofalo wanted to praise the actions of our Communications Center & our Officers who worked together seamlessly and with all of our resources to locate the man. Chief Garofalo is fully aware how this situation could have easily had a much different and tragic ending.