The subject of California's first "Silver Alert," an 82-year-old Elk Grove man who went missing, was found early this morning 70 miles away in Grass Valley.
Robert Grappi relies on regular medication and has shown signs of dementia, according to Officer Christopher Trim, Elk Grove Police Department spokesman.
Grappi left his Elk Grove home about 3:30 p.m. Monday after arguing with his wife. He was believed to be driving his 1998 Toyota RAV4 to his son's house in Nevada County, but he never arrived.
Police knew Grappi's credit card was used twice at Grass Valley gas stations early Tuesday.
Grappi was found this morning about 3 a.m. by Grass Valley police after they conducted a vehicle stop. He was checked by ambulance personnel and given a clean bill of health before being returned to family, police said.
Grass Valley police first suspected Grappi was a driving under the influence when they spotted his vehicle. Once an officer had a chance to speak with Grappi, it was discovered that he was reported missing from Elk Grove.
"He was very cooperative and was picked up by his son-in-law here at the police department," said Capt. Rex Marks with the Grass Valley police department.
Starting Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol began issuing bulletins called Silver Alerts in cases where at-risk people 65 and older go missing. The Grappi notification was distributed to authorities and media outlets in Sacramento, Placer and Nevada counties about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
However, Grappi was not located due to the new Silver Alert, police said. Finding him had more to do with an observant officer in a small town seeing someone driving in manner that suggested he was under the influence.
"We are a small community and at 3 a.m. pretty much anything that is moving is suspect," said Marks. "Fortunately, he was found safe and sound."
Marks said Grappi indicated that he was "visiting the high country" and that he was lucid at the time.
"Obviously he was very fatigued, quite tired," said Marks. "He was quite happy to see our officers."
Unlike Amber Alerts, the decade-old system used to locate missing children, Silver Alerts do not appear on electronic highway signs.
The CHP issues alerts based on several criteria, including health risks, inclement weather, suspicious circumstances or other perilous conditions.
Elk Grove police learned late Monday that Grappi was missing, Trim said. After working on the case overnight, they informed the CHP they had a Silver Alert candidate. The CHP decides whether to issue an alert.
Trim said his department typically issues news releases in such cases, but those don't have as broad a reach as the new Silver Alerts.