Volunteer search team reunites with family of missing elderly woman found alive

Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 00:12:59-04

 TWIN LAKE, Mich. -- A family reunited with the search team that found their missing relative this summer.

In August, 85 year-old Patricia Stark who has dementia, went missing near Cadillac.

36 hours later she was found alive thanks to the help of dozens of volunteers from Michigan Search and Rescue.

"We try to be an asset for law enforcement and we try to help people that may be lost or missing and their families," Volunteer Adam Kelly said.

Nearly 50 volunteers from across the state make up the Michigan Search and Rescue team, a nonprofit organization that assists in the search for missing persons.

This weekend the group and their dogs, headed to Muskegon County for their annual fall training.

"We try to come together as a team and get a really intensive training camp in from Thursday through Sunday, we try to do team activities but really work on polishing everything up," Kelly added.

Training that comes in handy when the group is called upon to help.

"The amount of time, money and volunteer hours we put in really accumulates to be quite a lot, but if you ask [Patricia Stark's] family they will say these dogs are a priceless asset," Kelly explained.

On Saturday Patricia Stark's family met the volunteers and the dogs Peanut and Beckett, who helped find Patricia alive a day-and-half after she went missing.

"If it wasn’t for the search and rescue team I don’t think she would have survived the night and we would have been planning a funeral," Becky Stark, said.

Jeff and Becky Stark says they reached out to the group hours into the second day of the police search for Patricia, which they were wrapping up at nightfall.

"The first day we heard about Michigan Search and Rescue through our daughter and we tried to give [police] that information and they didn’t seem too thrilled about it, but at 3:30 p.m. the second day, I finally said we have this information they will search all night, are you going to call them or are we? And they did call them," Becky explained.

"From the time [Michigan Search and Rescue] got there to the time they were found her, it was less than two hours," Becky added.

That result is why Becky and Jeff are preaching that law enforcement should be more open to the group's assistance on searches.

"I think it's a benefit that we have available to us and a lot of people don’t know about it. Hopefully our story will help get the word out. Police are amazing and did a good job but they have the availability to get extra help and I highly recommend they utilize it," Becky said.

Michigan Search and Rescue runs entirely from donations, click here for more on how to can contact them or help their cause.