By Caroline Connolly
SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY -- South Salt Lake Police are crediting a Good Samaritan for helping them end their search for a legally blind man, who had been missing for four days.
Benjamin Hyde, 35, was last seen at his home at the Valley Mental Health assisted living center around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. Approximately five miles from there, police said a driver spotted Hyde walking along a road in Taylorsville on Sunday morning.
Hyde’s mother, Kathy Auger, received a call from authorities around 11:00 a.m. saying that he had been found. "I just bawled,” Auger said. “I just cried. I cried harder than when I cried being so fearful. My cries were just very thankful.”
She and other family had arrived in Salt Lake City on Thursday from Idaho to search for Hyde themselves. Auger explained, "He is a walker, but he does always make it back home, and when he didn’t make it back home, it concerned us.”
Family members and police canvassed neighborhoods on Friday, handing out flyers with information about Hyde. Search and rescue crews also conducted an extensive search of the Jordan River by boat and helicopter, which turned up nothing. As each night passed, concern grew about Hyde’s ability to navigate his way home with both impaired vision and a mental health issue, for which he was receiving medication.
“I was beginning to worry. You try to be optimistic, but again, I was beginning to worry,” said Gary Keller of the South Salt Lake Police Department.
But those fears subsided when the driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, phoned police about a possible sighting in the area of 4100 South and 2600 West in Taylorsville.
Auger was already on the phone with a detective when the report came in. She said, “He was going to call me back, and that was, I’d say, the longest 10 minutes, 15 minutes. And he called back and said, ‘It was Ben. We have Ben. He’s fine.’”
Aside from appearing disheveled and confused, authorities said Hyde was in good health and doing well.
“We’re still trying to piece together where he’s been, how he’s been eating, what he’s been doing. It’s still not clear,” Auger said.
While Hyde has never done anything like this in the past, Auger said, they are considering providing him with greater supervision in the future.