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Chance encounters reunite Redmond family

By Brittany Weiner
Published On: Jan 03 2014 01:25:13 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 03 2014 01:29:11 AM CST

A happy ending to a scary day for one Central Oregon family, after a 70 -year-old Robert Stofle of Redmond went missing.

REDMOND, Ore. -

It was all smiles and laughter Thursday night after a frightening day for one Central Oregon family.

Robert Stofle, 73, who suffers from dementia, went missing Thursday morning from his home in Redmond, with his family's car, a white 1999 Dodge Durango.

Police immediately alerted the public, and so did NewsChannel 21 through our Website, social media accounts and mobile app.

"We pulled up and it had the writing on the back (as described by police), and she pulled the story up and saw that the license plate matched," Redmond resident Tayla Schmid said Thursday evening.

Sisters Tiana Gehrke and Schmid were heading back to Redmond from Portland, when they saw NewsChannel 21's breaking news alert, then found the car Stofle was driving and contacted police.

There was no sign of Stofle.

That was. until Warm Springs, about 100 miles down the road.

"We just called out his name, walked over and helped him into the front seat of the car, and said, 'We're going to take you somewhere safe,'" Gehrke said.

The women say he was hitchhiking near the Indian Head Casino, toward Redmond, with a can of gas. He was not injured, and in high spirits.

"He said he was fine and everything, so just knowing that he was okay was definitely a relief," Schmid said.

A relief to the sisters, and Stofle's family.

"We thank god, because we were praying, everybody was praying," Stofle's daughter, Charlotte Goodenough said.

Gehrke added, "I'm just glad he's safe and he's with his family."

But one question remains...

"How did he get from where the vehicle was located to Warm Springs? We do not know," Redmond Police Lt. Keith Knight said.

Something police don't expect to ever be answered, because of his medical conditions.

He was reunited with his family at the Redmond Police Department.

Police say this is just another example of how social media is helping law enforcement.

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