Condolences expressed over tragic end to Yamba search
A SEARCH effort to find missing Yamba man Vernon Nielsen was winding down yesterday afternoon when police received the tragic news.
A local resident had found the body of the 89-year-old in a swampy area behind his property on Couqette Close, about 150m away from the aged care home where he went missing the day before.
Mr Nielsen left Uniting Caroona on Freeburn St about 10.15am on Monday morning, and was last sighted near the Yamba BP service station about 5.45pm the same day.
It is understood by The Daily Examiner he suffered from a health condition, possibly dementia, and it wasn't the first time he had wandered away from the facility.
Uniting's residential and health care services director, Saviour Buhagiar, said staff acted on Mr Nielsen's disappearance almost immediately.
"Within 15 minutes of Mr Nielsen leaving the facility, our staff had commenced critical incident procedures, and then notified police as well as all other relevant authorities," Mr Buhagiar said.
"Uniting Yamba is a tight-knit community. We are providing every support to all of our residents, their families and staff.
"We have also expressed our sincere condolences to Mr Nielsen's family at this very difficult time.
"As this matter is now the subject of a police investigation, we cannot provide any further comment."
Coffs/Clarence police Inspector Tony Milner said there was a big push within the local community to find Mr Nielsen as soon as possible, and thanked the media and public for their assistance.
Tributes for the grandfather have flooded social media following the news of his death.
"We knew that time was of the essence and had a big push to try and find him early," Mr Milner said.
"We appreciate all the assistance from the community and State Emergency Service, especially for all those who donated their time to search the region.
"It was just a sad outcome."
Police said there were not believed to be any suspicious circumstances in Mr Nielsen's death.
A full report will be prepared for the Coroner.