An 82-year-old Colorado man who was last seen Monday was found alive Thursday morning by his grandson along a river near his crashed car, according to deputies who called it a “true miracle.”
Robert McLeroy of Nucla, Colo., was last seen around 10:30 a.m. Monday leaving the town for Grand Junction, more than two hours away, according to the Montrose County Sheriff”s Office.
After McLeroy was reported missing, the sheriff’s office, with the help of helicopter crews and others, started searching all the routes leading to Grand Junction.
On Thursday, a large search party, which included members of the Montrose County Sheriff's Posse aid group and other volunteers, starting searching the area around Highway 141.
McLeroy's grandson, Ethan Archer, was searching from the San Miguel River in a kayak, while his father, Ivan, was following above him on the highway in a vehicle, when Ethan found McLeroy on the riverbank, the sheriff's office said.
The car McLeroy had been driving was nearby, with its nose in the river.
Deputies said Ethan immediately notified his father, who alerted law enforcement.
A San Miguel undersheriff, a lieutenant and search party members cut several trees to clear a path, then used ropes and pulleys to rescue McLeroy.
Deputies said they thought McLeroy had tried to get out of the car by climbing the steep cliff to the highway, but had fallen.
"This is a true miracle," Lt. William McClellan, who organized Thursday’s search efforts, said. "Mr. McLeroy is a beloved member of the west end community, and on behalf of the [sheriff's office], I am proud to be able to safely reunite him with his family. I want to recognize the volunteers, deputies, Montrose County Road and Bridge, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State Patrol, San Miguel County Undersheriff Berg, Classic Air Medical, and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office for their assistance."
Crews airlifted McLeroy to a Grand Junction hospital for medical evaluation. His current condition was not immediately known.
"Deputies and search parties have been working around the clock trying to find Mr. McLeroy and I am so thankful our efforts were successful," Investigator Travis Thompson said.
"This is the best-case scenario -- this 82-year-old man persevered and survived 72 hours in hot temperatures -- and we could not have accomplished this without the assistance of our partners."