KINNELON, NJ (Morris County) – A man who fell asleep after watching the sunset at Condict Park in Kinnelon was located early Wednesday morning, authorities said.
A Morris County Park Police Officer spotted a vehicle Tuesday night while making a security check at the park. County Sheriff Detective Granato and his K-9 partner Spike, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix, were requested by the Park Police to assist in a search for the owner of a vehicle that was seen in the park’s parking lot about an hour after the park had closed for the day.
Detective Granato and K-9 Spike scouted the area for nearly 90 minutes and did not locate a trail of human scent.
On Wednesday at around 1:00 a.m., Detective Granato and Morris County Park Police Officer Bryan Petitt trekked up a dirt trail that hadn’t previously been searched. They then saw indications that the missing driver had been on the trail and continued their search with the aid of flashlights.
Off one side of the trail is a sixty foot drop down to a pond and on another side of the trail, about 20 feet down, Detective Granato said, he noticed a pair of feet and pants in his flashlight beam. He yelled out the man’s name but received no reply.
Detective Granato shouted again and saw the man – later identified as the adult operator of the vehicle – startle awake. Detective Granato said that he and Officer Petitt assisted the uninjured man out of the wooded nook he had selected as a nap site, up the incline to the trail, and then to the parking lot.
The man told the officers he went to the park to watch the sunset and fell asleep, never realizing how late it had gotten. Morris County Park Police Lieutenant Chris List said the driver was examined by the Kinnelon Emergency Medical Squad and driven home.
Detective Granato said he is grateful the driver was not hurt, as he might have been had he tried to leave the park in the dark and accidentally tumbled down a hill into the pond.
“This search that ended happily is a perfect example of the seamless, mutual aid relationship the Morris County Sheriff’s Office has with the Morris County Park Police. While K-9 Spike was resting, the officers showed their concern by continuing their search until the driver was found,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
“This was great team work,” Lieutenant List said.
Lieutenant List said the search at Silas Condict Park was the second of the day for the Morris County Park Police. Earlier on Tuesday, they received a cell phone call from an injured bicyclist at another county-owned park. The bicyclist was found and transported to safety by Morris County Park Police Officers using ATVs and a rescue trailer, Lieutenant List said.
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