Lost in the System; Eureka Cops Try to Help an Elderly Man
“He’s falling through the cracks,” Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said.
Since Sunday morning, Eureka Police have had several contacts with him. The first was at the request of Supervisor Rex Bohn who noticed that the man had been curled up under the Humboldt County Courthouse steps.
When the officer contacted the dishevelled, elderly man at a nearby market, he noticed that the balding man with wisps of white hair was shaking uncontrollably and his hands were blue with cold. While the officer was asking the man a few questions, he noticed the man seemed confused and unsure of basic information.
“He couldn’t remember his name or date of birth,” Mills explained. “And he didn’t possess identification.”
The elderly man, who eventually said his name was Ron, picked up a muffin from the store. The officer asked him if he was going to pay for it. The man admitted having no money. The officer bought Ron the muffin and took him to his car to warm him up.
Though Ron ate the muffin and began to thaw a little, he wasn’t able to answer basic questions, Mills told us. Ron couldn’t give the current year, the EPD Chief said. “He thought he was in 1954 at one point.”
The officer eventually took Ron to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka. There, Mills said, the elderly man “was combative,” wouldn’t answer questions, and “swung at a doctor.”
Eventually, Ron was taken to Sempervirens Psychiatric Health Facility. But, he was eventually discharged from there and apparently spent another night under the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse.
The next morning, dispatch sent the same EPD officer to a cafe near there after Ron was once again reported as behaving oddly. Once again, he was cold and dishevelled but didn’t appear to have been drinking or using drugs. This time Adult Protective Services were contacted. But again, somehow he didn’t quite fit criteria to get a place to stay.
Chief Mills says the Eureka Police have been trying to find people who know him that could help. They believe the man’s name is Ron Pelland and he grew up in Fortuna. They believe he also spent some time in San Francisco.
However, he said, “He shouldn’t be sent anywhere without stabilization and someone to take care of him…We’re trying to find family.”
Mills thinks that Mr. Pelland might have a home, perhaps nearby. “He doesn’t sound like one of the typical transients,” the Chief said. “[It’s] more cold and dementia and inability to care for himself that’s the issue…He doesn’t have anything other than the clothes on his back.”
If you have information about Ron, please contact the Eureka Police at (707) 441-4060 during business hours.
If a responsible person to help can’t be found, Mills is unsure of what will happen. “What do we do with this person?” he asked. “The state mental hospitals are gone–[He needs] a place where [he] can be warm and dry.”