When a 94-year-old goes missing in the dead of winter, family can fear the worst. But thanks to the help of social media and the community, this story has a happy ending.
Wendouree's Ronald 'Wesley' Thomas is back with his loved ones after an unplanned adventure took him as far as Winchelsea in driving rain on Wednesday.
Mr Thomas' family has thanked the more than 2000 people who shared their appeal on social media, for helping find their patriarch after he went missing upon leaving a doctor's appointment in Alfredton.
Mr Thomas had gone to get some antibiotics for an infection but became confused on his way home.
He returned home late on Wednesday night after being helped by a pair of Good Samaritan's; one who found him walking along the Princess Highway east of Winchelsea just after 6pm, and a nearby taxi driver who gave him a lift home.
MAP: Where Mr Thomas is believed to have travelled.
Mr Thomas' granddaughter Rochelle Davison said her grandfather, who does not suffer from ill health, had become confused because of the temperature he had, due to the infection.
"He went to get some medication dispensed and from there he went missing," she said.
"I retraced the steps, went back to the GP and spoke to everyone. I lodged a police report before midday and then started looking for him.
We were at home comforting my grandmother when we heard a car out the front about 8.30pm. I thought initially it was the police, but then I saw his head in the taxi.Rochelle Davison
"What's happened is he's suffered confusion, he's got a form of amnesia, but he's travelled far and wide.
"He's quite remarkable for a 94-year-old, he's not on any medication at all."
Social media responses to the family plea revealed Mr Thomas had been seen earlier on Creswick Road, then Linton and Ballan, before heading to Winchelsea.
Disability practitioner Ros Johnstone saw Mr Thomas walking along the Princess Highway at Winchelsea.
"I was about five minutes out of Winchelsea on the Geelong side and I noticed a car and saw a man walking," she said.
"It was dark, around 6pm, but fortunately the rain had stopped for a few minutes."
Ms Johnstone said the car was on the side of the road and she thought it was a breakdown before she saw Mr Thomas walking about 100m away.
"He was pretty good. I just asked if I could help him, he said he'd come from Ballarat and he'd like a taxi," she said.
"I knew a man who owned taxis in Winchelsea, so I rang him up and he just happened to have a car.
I kept talking and engaging with him, but he was in a good way. I'm glad he's okay, cars can be replaced, people can't.Ros Johnstone
Ms Davison said despite Wesley's ordeal, her grandfather was in good spirits and had spent the night in hospital as a precaution.
"He was laying there last night and he turned around and said to me 'it's been a bastard of a day'," she said.
"We are grateful to everyone who shared all the messages on Wednesday, we are just so blessed to have him back safe and sound, we just can't believe it."
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