A Miami-Dade police officer recently helped out an 81-year-old man who suffers from dementia and Alzheimer's disease after he wandered into South Florida from Cocoa Beach.
"I saw a lot of my father in him," Officer Alejandro Munoz said. "He was charming, well dressed -- just like my father, but I knew there was something wrong."
Munoz said he responded to a call at 1:30 a.m. July 19 about an injured man at a Shell gas station in Kendall.
But the man, identified as Alec Baird, wasn't injured and had just driven down from Cocoa Beach.
"My dad died when he was 79 years old. My father did suffer from the same medical condition," Munoz said. "It kind of touched me in a personal way when I was speaking to this man. He was perfect."
Baird told the officer that he was in Kendall with his wife for an event and just needed directions to the highway.
But the officer could tell something wasn't right
"(There) was something that wasn't really convincing me," Munoz said. "After I got in contact with his son, he told me his wife passed away two years ago, and he is suffering from early stages of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and he had no business in South Florida."
Baird's son, who is the Panama City Fire Rescue chief, typically responds to similar calls.
"Even though I'm a firefighter and a paramedic -- so I'm prepared for this type of thing -- it hits home when it's your father," Alex Baird said.
Munoz stayed in touch with the family and checked Alec Baird into a hospital to ensure that he was safe until his son could make the nine-hour drive to get him.
"He was on the phone with me the entire time, even to the point where it was after his shift," Alex Baird said. "The next day, he still called me to make sure everything was OK."
"It's what's right," Munoz said. "It's what we should all do as humans, regardless of the positions that we hold."