STOCK ISLAND, FL – This missing person case of a 90-year-old veteran from Naples has a happy ending, due to the actions of the employees of Monroe County Social Services and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
On Friday, Nov. 23, Ethel Dittrich left her Naples home to play bingo. When she returned about 9:15 p.m., her husband of 68 years, William Dittrich, was not there. The Collier County Sheriff's Office was contacted, and a missing person's report was filed.
Late Saturday evening, Dittrich was found with his car damaged at the Big Coppitt Key Circle K by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Denise Dery. Dittrich could not remember how the car became damaged. Dery’s supervisor, Sgt. David Lariz, provided the number of Social Service’s Special Projects Coordinator Anna Marine Haskins.
Haskins contacted Social Services Sr. Director Sheryl Graham, who offered to have Dittrich stay temporarily at the County’s owned and operated assisted living facility Bayshore Manor on nearby Stock Island. The facility is staffed around the clock and would be a safe, supervised place for Dittrich to stay until he could be reunited with his wife. Dittrich’s wife approved the plan and made arrangements with her neighbors to pick him up the next day.
From the Circle K, Monroe County Fire Rescue transported Dittrich to the Lower Keys Medical Center for a checkup. Once cleared, he was taken to Bayshore Manor where Martha Mathis Mack and Svetlana Baker took over his care. They had a warm bed waiting for him and found him fresh clothes to wear while his clothes were laundered.
Dittrich is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, serving a combined 20 years for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army.
When Dittrich woke Sunday morning, he had breakfast with the residents of Bayshore Manor. Haskins worked throughout the day to guide his wife and neighbors to Bayshore Manor.
The reunion was emotional. Ethel Dittrich embraced and kissed her husband, who was dressed in his freshly laundered clothing and seated in a recliner. Haskins and Graham took the Dittrichs and their neighbors to lunch at IHOP, followed by a trip to the Circle K to find the damaged vehicle drivable but with low air pressure in the tires. The tires were filled with air before the group made their return trip.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. Sunday, Ethel Dittrich called to say they arrived home safely and to again thank all involved with helping her husband. Monroe County Social Services offered its assistance to connect the family with social and medical resources in their home town to help deal with the events of the weekend.