Missing 61-year-old man with dementia found safe 8 days later

Donald Smith disappeared August 6; found wandering on Blanding Boulevard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A missing Jacksonville man was found Monday, according to family members and police.

Donald Lee Smith, 61, left his home on Mull Street in the Hillcrest neighborhood at 9 a.m. August 6 to walk to the nearby ATM on Normandy Boulevard, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Smith was seen at a Wells Fargo Bank ATM on Normandy Boulevard, then spotted leaving the Emanuel convenience store off Lane Avenue after winning some money on a lottery ticket, police said.

Police said a tip came in late Sunday evening from someone saying that they believed they had seen Smith in the area of Blanding and Wilson boulevards on Thursday.

Officers began to search the area, and Smith was found wandering on Blanding Boulevard on Monday. Police said he was confused and did not know how to get home. He was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside to get checked out.

"We want to thank the tipster who just recently saw the missing person's post, and even though they believed they saw him days ago, still emailed us the information 'just in case.' That 'just in case' email has truly helped Mr. Smith, who has been missing and wandering the streets of Jacksonville for nine days," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Smith's family reported him missing August 7, and his daughter and brother posted signs all over town, hoping to find him. They said he has medical issues, including dementia, and suffered a gash on his forehead during a seizure a few months ago.

“I’ve been calling and calling everybody that I know and putting out fliers and what have you to (do to) try to locate him and everything, because he is my brother,” Joe Smith said through tears.

Family members said they were worried that Smith, who turned 61 on Thursday, was lost without any idea how to get home.

“We spend that time together, and he knows that, so it’s been very hard, and I know he’s got to be out there,” his daughter, Kara Kavanaugh, told News4Jax last week. “If he remembers and is in the right frame of mind, then he’s very upset, because he can’t be here with me.”

Kavanaugh said her father had never disappeared before, and she and the rest of his family just wanted him to come home so they could celebrate his birthday.

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