MARTINEZ -- A pair of wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game inadvertently found an elderly at-risk man in Martinez on Wednesday night who had been reported missing hours earlier.
Game wardens Nicole Kozicki and Jason Rogers were driving on state Highway 4 in Martinez around 10:30 p.m. when they spotted a car swerving and driving erratically.
The pair had been working on an enforcement operation to catch potential sturgeon poachers in the area.
"They found few anglers and fewer sturgeon but had plenty of other activity to take up their time," Fish and Game Lt. Patrick Foy said.
After stopping the vehicle, the wardens spoke to the driver, a man in his 80s.
The pair ran the car's license plate and found that the man, who suffers from dementia, had been reported missing from his Napa home earlier in the day, Foy said.
"He could remember (his wife's) name, but he couldn't remember where he lived or her phone number," Fish and Game Lt. Sheree Christensen said.
The wardens found a note that the man's wife had tucked into his wallet with her name and contact information, and helped reunite the man with his family later Wednesday night, Foy said.
After learning that the man had not eaten all day, the wardens shared some of their lunch with him as they waited for his family members to pick him up.
The unexpected traffic stop for the game wardens came hours after the same pair stopped
"Most people don't even realize that wardens are able to make traffic stops," Foy said.
The pair learned that the man was driving a car affixed with stolen license plates and several vehicle code violations. The wardens cited him for the violations and for possession of stolen property and released him.
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