K-9 locates missing senior in chest-deep water


SHREWSBURY, Mass. – A Massachusetts State Police K-9 located a missing senior citizen with dementia who had wandered into a Shrewsbury marsh Wednesday, becoming stranded in chest-deep water.

As the search stretched from Wednesday afternoon into evening, state troopers assisted Shrewsbury police. 

While crews searched local neighborhoods, Trooper Norman Stanikmas began combing the woods with his K-9 partner Emma. After an hour of scouting, Emma started pulling hard toward a marsh.

In the pitch-black, rainy night, Emma stayed above the water, tracking the woman’s scent. Each step the troopers took, they sank deeper into the marshy water.

“It was just mud and water. You couldn’t move,” Stanikmas said. “There was a lot of grass, and whenever you walked on it, you would sink, to chest level of water in mud.”

Within about 15 minutes, Emma located the woman. Trooper Joseph Vella pulled the woman into shallower water, but it was still waist-deep.

Shrewsbury firefighters pulled her from the marsh onto a rescue hovercraft. She was cold and confused but grateful help had arrived.

“Overnight the water would have been extremely cold,” Stanikmas said. “So it was very important we got her out of there.”

The senior was taken to a Worcester hospital for treatment. Her family expressed gratitude for first responders’ efforts.

Stanikmas credited Shrewsbury police and firefighters with their efforts in rescuing the woman. As for Emma, he says it’s not the first time his partner has located a missing person.

“I’m extremely proud of her. She did a good job,” Stanikmas said. “You put a lot of time into training, and when it pays off like that, it’s rewarding.”

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