Dogs
Off duty cop follows dog in the woods and is unexpectedly led to missing owner after accident
The off-duty officer was hunting when the dog, who was wearing a collar, turned up and caught his attention. The officer's gut told him to track the dog's prints to see where they would lead him.
Sasha Alonzo
11.16.21

Life can turn in the blink of an eye. So when Heidi Sarno hadn’t heard from her father Fred Rapp, 78, she knew something was wrong. Heidi called the police to report her father missing.

According to the report, she last saw him earlier that day, but a few hours after, she could no longer contact him or even track his vehicle.

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Starting the search

This prompted the police to file a missing person report and start their search. The first step that they took was to use the GPS data that was last recorded from Fred’s phone. With that information, they were able to track him in the wooded areas along State Highway 37 and even spanning to the Toms River and Berkeley Township areas.

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Checking the woods

The Manchester Police began searching the wooded areas. They utilized their drone, Humvee, and even their newly acquired all-terrain vehicle, but they weren’t able to find Fred or even his vehicle.

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An answered call

They worked tirelessly but ended up with unsuccessful attempts. While doing the search and rescue mission, Sgt. Theodore Cooke also made attempts to contact Fred, and it was in the early morning, at approximately 5:45 a.m., that Fred was finally able to answer the call.

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Pixabay

A miracle

According to Fred, he crashed his vehicle in a wooded area, and he didn’t know where he was or what his location was. After telling him what happened, Fred told Sgt. Cooke that he was with someone and when Sgt. Cooke asked to talk to that person, he was surprised when he found out that it was none other than off-duty Manchester Sergeant Charles Brooks.

Manchester Police / Facebook Photo
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Manchester Police / Facebook Photo

It turned out that Sgt. Charles Brooks was hunting in the area at that time.

Sgt. Cooke and Sgt. Brooke talked about what they had to do next since the location was inaccessible to motor vehicles; they decided that Sgt. Brooks was to escort Fred to an open location, where he could be rescued.

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From there, the Manchester police met with Fred and brought him to Hill Road, where he was given first aid. After the successful rescue operation, Sgt. Brooks shared what happened that day.

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How the off duty officer found Fred

According to him, he was hunting in the same area when a dog caught his attention. It was Petie, Fred’s dog, and companion when the accident happened.

Manchester Police / Facebook Photo
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Manchester Police / Facebook Photo

The dog tried to look for help.

The dog was alone, so Sgt. Brooks thought that the dog was missing as it wandered off from his owner, so initially, he wanted to reunite the pup with its owner. He decided to get the dog and follow the dog’s paw prints which led him to Fred’s whereabouts.

Manchester Police / Facebook Photo
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Manchester Police / Facebook Photo

“This situation highlights the fact that a police officer is a police officer 24/7. We are truly fortunate that Sgt. Brooks was in the right place at the right time because without his help there is no telling how this story would have ended”, said Lisa Parker, Manchester Police Chief in the Facebook post.

Manchester Police / Facebook Photo
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Manchester Police / Facebook Photo

There are two heroes in this story. A police officer will always be a police officer, even if he’s not in uniform. He knows his duty 24/7 and will always be there to help.

We also appreciate Fred’s smart dog, who was able to find Sgt. Brooks and ask for help. Without this smart pup, Fred’s story might have had a different ending.

Luck was on Fred’s side that day and we’re grateful that Sgt. Brooks and his pup’s efforts saved his life.

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By Sasha Alonzo
hi@sbly.com
Sasha Alonzo is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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