After six days and five long nights, a missing 85-year-old Oakland man was found alive by Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
Alfonso Arechiga was lost at Lake Chabot Regional Park and aside from a bump and a few scratches, he is doing fairly well.
“He said never leave home without some adventure in your back pocket and clearly he left with a little more adventure then we needed him to,” said his daughter Laura Arechiga. “He saw us today and he’s holding our hand and he's smiling and he's laughing and there’s some tears but I know he’s so thankful.”
Laura and her brother Mike say last week was a nightmare.
Their dad, known for his contributions to their community, has been battling Alzheimer’s for the past eight years and left his home for a usual walk behind the golf course at Lake Chabot but forgot his tracking device.
“He likes to walk out there and through a series of unfortunate events he got turned around on one of his hikes,” said Laura.
For days, Oakland police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, other law enforcement agencies and independent search and rescue teams kept up the search.
“A lot of other people were preparing us for the worst and so we were coming to terms with the fact that we might have lost him,” said his son Mike.
But almost a week in, they got the amazing news, Alfonso was found alive. He was airlifted from a canyon 300 feet below a ravine. He was bruised but not broken and his family said they think Alzheimer’s may have helped save his life.
“Maybe this did help him survive, maybe it kept him calm. Who knows? There was definitely a higher power or something going on for this to happen,” said Mike.
But what is clear for the Arechiga family is that good begets good.
“This is what I know my dad would want to pull away from this experience. Not the heartbreak, but the move to continue that energy forward positively,” said Laura.
It’s still unclear how long Alfonso will recover in the hospital but his family said a big homecoming will be waiting for him once he gets to go home.