A San Luis Obispo man with mild dementia remained missing six days after he took the family dog to a city park and didn’t return home.
George Carpenter, 74, was reported missing about 2 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. He was last seen driving his 1989 Jeep Comanche to Laguna Lake Park with his black Labrador retriever, Scooter.
As each day passes, Dixie Carpenter, George Carpenter’s wife of 53 years, keeps vigil by the phone at their San Luis Obispo home, hoping that someone somewhere will find some sign of him.
Carpenter is described as an avid hiker in good physical shape with a passion for geology. He worked a number of years in law enforcement — retiring from the Morro Bay Police Department.
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Neighbors, friends and family continue to help search areas Carpenter is known to have liked hiking with the family dog — including trails off Turri Road, the Irish Hills behind The Home Depot and the beach in Cayucos.
Police so far have not received tips about his whereabouts and the Jeep he was driving hasn’t been found, San Luis Obispo Lt. Tom DePriest said. A CHP helicopter flew over several rural areas in the county to help with the search, but it was unable to find his vehicle.
Carpenter’s credit card hasn’t been used since he disappeared, and he doesn’t carry a cell phone.
“We are really hoping that someone will read or hear the news and see his vehicle somewhere,” DePriest said. “We haven’t had any leads, and we are looking for that one phone call to help get us started.”
Law enforcement agencies statewide have been notified of the situation, DePriest said.
Dixie Carpenter said her husband didn’t say or do anything unusual on the day that he disappeared. She’d gone out to run a few errands, and when it got dark, she began to worry.
“Everything was as usual — there was nothing alerting me to be alarmed about anything, and I am pretty sensitive to such things,” Dixie Carpenter said.
George Carpenter takes medication for dementia and for a bipolar disorder and does not have his prescriptions with him. Without his medication, he is likely disoriented and bewildered.
“He is desperate at this point — confused and knowing that he needs help, but unable to help himself,” Dixie Carpenter said.
Some family and friends worry that George Carpenter may have tried to drive as far as Pershing County, Nev. — a place close to his heart because his son, who died in 2004, worked there for a number of years. He may have also tried to drive to Flagstaff, Ariz., to see his nephew, but left without any phone numbers or personal items.
Friends and authorities at both places were alerted to be on the lookout for him, said Tom Whiteford, a longtime family friend. Carpenter’s wife said that if he did leave the area, he was likely headed to the desert.
He disappeared once before, four years ago, and was found near the high-desert community of California City, disoriented and dehydrated, she said.
“He’s a native Californian and even from the time he was very young, the desert has always held a special allure to him,” Whiteford said.
Other local areas Carpenter enjoys hiking are Huasna, behind Lopez Lake or along Highway 1 between Cambria and Big Sur.
“He loses track of time, doesn’t bring food or water with him and easily gets lost in what he is doing,” said Beth Wonson, his daughter-in-law. “He could have fallen or the dog could have run off and he followed.”
Wonson said she struggles with trying to think of every possible scenario and is constantly searching for news headlines of any unidentified person found in all the places where he could be.
“He used to love to go up into the woods behind Lopez and drive the remote dirt roads and prided himself on knowing his way around the back country,” Wonson said. “We need every hiker and every mountain biker to be on the lookout.”