John Florentino, a pleasant and very persistent 78-year-old Briargate resident, put himself through quite an experience Friday.
First, let's clear up the news: After being considered missing and at risk for most of the day, Florentino was reported by area TV stations to have been found Friday evening by sheriff's deputies. The Gazette's online alert, posted after 5 p.m. Friday, never was updated. As far as the daily's readers know, Florentino still is missing on Saturday.
But he's not. He's doing fine and was returned to his family Friday night, although as one city policeman put it, "He's lucky this didn't happen a day earlier," on Thursday when it was much colder. And, in reality, it wasn't law enforcement who found him. He simply turned up ... at the Independent.
Florentino, who suffers from dementia, left his home in Briargate, not far from the intersection of Research Parkway and Rangewood Drive (in other words, far out on the north side), heading for what he later called "the inner city" on Friday morning. He felt he had some personal business to take care of, which meant going downtown. He clearly described his route of walking close to 12 miles, working his way westward to Union Boulevard, then all the way south through major intersections and traffic to Fillmore Street and onward to the city's core.
He wasn't avoiding anybody, yet police and rescue personnel never saw him. He ended up in the late afternoon sitting on the doorstep of the Independent at 235 S. Nevada, where he stayed until some staff members leaving work around 5 p.m. talked to him and realized he was cold, dehydrated and hungry. He was taken inside for some warmth and food, and Indy CEO Fran Zankowski soon realized Florentino, despite being able to identify himself and how his day had gone, was also quite confused.
A call brought two city policemen who quickly determined Florentino was the missing man (reported by his wife), and they called for a non-emergency ambulance. The policemen, it should be said, handled Florentino in a very sensitive, understanding manner. The ambulance took him to Memorial Hospital North, where he was to be evaluated and then released to family members.
But the details were so misreported, and left so uncertain in at least one instance, that it seemed appropriate to offer the real story here.