- Persistent search saves life of 81-year-old Seymour man

James Browder at the Rusty Spurs Cafe on Feb. 8.

Persistency by Seymour’s police likely saved the life of an elderly local man who wandered away from a Springfield hospital and was found several hours later in a ditch near the James River Freeway on that city’s south side.

Ultimately, 81-year-old James Curtiss Browder, a resident of North Frances Street in Seymour, was found after leaving Springfield’s Mercy Hospital early in the morning last Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Browder’s unique series of events began on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 8, when Seymour Police Department officers Skylar McIntosh and Ray Rodriguez were called to theRusty Spurs Cafe on East Clinton Avenue.

Browder was dining at the local eatery.

A frequent visitor, “he wasn’t acting as usual,” Sgt. Chase Davis of the local department explained.

“Mr. Browder just wasn’t being himself,” Davis noted.

“The staff (at the cafe) was fearful that he was having a medical issue. For example, he wasn’t certain what year it was. We got reports from some he thought it was 1949, others said he thought it was 1979.”

From the scene, McIntosh and Rodriguez called for an ambulance, and Browder was taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

“At that point, we felt everything was fine,” Davis said.

“Mr. Browder was safe at the hospital, receiving treatment. We felt our job was done.”

However, sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. the next morning, Feb. 9, Browder walked away from the hospital, apparently undetected.

“This is where things went terribly wrong, at least in my opinion,” Davis explained.

“Mercy called the Springfield Police Department. In a misunderstanding, they didn’t realize (Browder) was at Mercy. (The Springfield police) then called us. Then we got a hold of Roye (Cole, the Webster County sheriff). Roye was a huge help. Everyone then coordinated. The focus was to find Mr. Browder.”

Before he left Mercy Hospital, Davis said Browder had changed back into his clothing.

“He put on his clothes and left,” Davis said of Browder. “He did have an I.V. in his arm.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol then issued an Endangered Silver Advisory Alert. Seymour’s police sent a bodycam photo of Browder from the Rusty Spurs Cafe to give law enforcement a current photograph to aid in the search.

“The alert was issued late that afternoon,” Davis said.

The patrol sent local media an alert at 4:33 p.m.Around 7:30 p.m. that evening, the Springfield PoliceDepartment called Seymour’s force and said that Browderhad been found.

“A young officer, a very diligent one, found Mr. Browderin a ditch at the intersection of South Campbell and JamesRiver Freeway shortly after 5 p.m.,” Davis said.

“He was out in the cold. During the day, since he had left Mercy (Hospital), it appears Mr. Browder had several ridesto an from a nearby gas station.”

Davis said Browder was fortunate that he wasn’t seriously harmed by the extreme cold, as he was exposed to the outdoors for more than 10 hours.

“Bottom line, Mercy shouldn’t have just let Mr. Browder walk out,” he said, adding that Browder was returned to the hospital after being found by the Springfield officer.

And in the end, the Seymour man was safe.

“If we hadn’t have been persistent, if all of the agencies hadn’t have worked so well together, then I don’t think he would have been found in time,” Davis said.

“He’s an 81-year-old man, and had he not been found and was forced to endure the cold conditions that evening (of Feb. 9), it’s likely he would have died.

“I’m just very happy that we were able to make sure that he was safe and okay. Within our department here in Seymour, we just hope he can make a full recovery and come home to be with his family.”

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