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Search intensifies for missing Spokane Valley man

By Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Nov 29 2012 02:22:31 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 29 2012 08:43:17 PM CST
Samuel Counts elderly missing man
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

Spokane sheriff's deputies have intensified their search for a missing man suffering from dementia.

Sam Counts, 71, disappeared while running an errand last Friday and the former Fairchild Air Force Base mechanic and his car are still missing. He left his home in the 4900 block of East 9th Avenue but deputies aren't stopping there in their search for Counts. 

His family feels Counts' thinking may have reverted to an earlier time in his life and that he doesn't even realize so many people are looking for him.

Last Friday he left his home in Spokane Valley and drove to the Franz Bakery at Fancher and Sprague where he always bought his wife a loaf of bread.

"It was close to four when he left, mom said, and we're just afraid that he got there and they were closed and then he became disoriented and turned the wrong way," Counts' daughter, Sue Belote, said.

Counts was last seen driving a white, four door Kia. There has been no activity on his credit card, so Counts could still be in the area.

It's not uncommon for lost dementia patients to resume a lifestyle they were living many years earlier and for Counts that was baseball, golf and bowling.

"He loved to bowl, he was a retired mail carrier out of the Hillyard post office as well as retired Air Force from Faichild.. We keep thinking maybe he's gone back in time and for him that's the present. We don't know," Belote said.

Sheriff's deputies worry his car may have bogged down in the mud off a dirt road and so they launched Air 1 Thursday to search some of the more remote locations near his home.

"If the vehicle's plates are run through law enforcement it's going to show a missing person. Also it will show if he goes over into the State of Idaho and today we put up Air 1, our helicopter, basically looking through all the remote areas of Spokane County," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Counts' family has papered the Spokane Valley with missing person flyers and think their best hope is someone recognizing him or his car. They ask for your help even if you're worried about sounding a false alarm.

"We are begging everybody, if they think they see him or his car call 9-1-1 immediately, please. They can respond faster than we can," Belote said.

Counts is six feet tall and weighs 170 lbs. He was last seen wearing a red and black jacket, jeans and white tennis shoes. If anyone sees Counts or his vehicle you're asked to call 9-1-1.

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