Authorities said Friday they believe they located the body of a Spokane Valley man with dementia who has been missing since Nov. 23.
The Spokane County medical examiner is expected to officially confirm the body is that of 71-year-old Samuel H. Counts.
The body was located about a quarter-mile away from the vehicle that Counts had been driving when he went missing, according to Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin.
Spokane County sheriff’s pilots flying helicopter Air One spotted the vehicle deep in the woods southeast of Elk, Wash., Friday afternoon.
Family had told police Counts was last seen leaving his home in the 4900 block of East Ninth Avenue to go to the store on Nov. 23.
Counts’ daughter, Spokane resident Susan Belote, said the family is devastated.
“Especially with how he died,” Belote said. “We just can’t imagine.”
Counts was born in Oklahoma and was married to his wife, Donna Counts, 81, for 45 years, Belote said. Counts raised 10 children and had 14 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren.
He was a sports fan and coached his grandchildren’s Little League teams, she said.
Counts served in the Air Force for 22 years, after which he delivered mail in Elk for 17 years before moving to the Hillyard post office, where he retired nine years ago at age 62.
He was diagnosed with dementia within the past year and was in the early stages, managing it with medication, Belote said.
A doctor said he was still OK to drive as long as somebody was with him, but he had insisted the day he went missing that he knew his way to the store and that his wife let him go buy a loaf of bread.
“We think he was going back in time and was going to find Elk,” Belote said.