Menomonee Falls — An 81-year-old Menomonee Falls man became the first missing person in Wisconsin to prompt the issuance of a Silver Alert. At about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8, the state's first Silver Alert was put out for Heinrich (Henry) Klein, who was last seen at about 9 a.m. that morning.
The alert was issued after Klein did not return to his Water Street residence after he left the Speedway gas station on Appleton Avenue.
The man had run out of gas in front of the Summer Sounds festival grounds in Cedarburg and asked a 40-year-old Grafton woman for help. The woman contacted Cedarburg Police as the man seemed confused, according to Cedarburg Captain Glenn Lindberg, and she was not aware of the alert at the time. There were no medical concerns for the man, and he was reunited with his family.
Though it was not the alert that prompted the woman to contact police, Lindberg said he believes it aided in returning the man to his family more efficiently as the alert was canceled shortly after police officials confirmed with Menomonee Falls that this was the missing man.
"It was a great tool to have because it can broaden the message to more people more quickly," Menomonee Falls Captain Mark Waters said of the Wisconsin Silver Alert program, which launched just over a week earlier on Aug. 1.
Similar to an Amber Alert, Silver Alerts are issued by email, text message or fax through the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to notify the public that an adult with Alzheimer's, dementia or other permanent cognitive impairment is missing.
The Alzheimer's & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin reported there are at least 116,000 people with dementia who live in Wisconsin, and about 60 percent will wander at some point as their condition progresses.
"The picture-perfect scenario would be that anyone with a cellphone gets the message and identifies the person much more quickly than if the alert had not been issued," Waters said, adding that anyone may subscribe online to receive Silver Alerts and Crime Alerts for free by email, text message or fax.
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