West Carteret Fire and EMS reunites missing elderly South Carolina man with his family

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -It’s a story that began with serious concern but ended up being a heartwarming moment as a fire department in the east went beyond the call of duty to help a missing elderly South Carolina man.

When Captain Dustin Clapp and the West Carteret Fire and EMS crew responded to a single-vehicle wreck around 9 p.m. Sunday night, he says they didn’t expect to arrive on scene to an elderly man inside by himself.

“Something just wasn’t quite adding up,” Clapp said. “The gentleman was adamant on sleeping in his truck.”

Clapp says they began talking to the man, later identified as 82-year-old Paul Violette, who was in a truck on 1402 Hwy 58 North in the Peletier area.

Clapp says the man seemed confused about where he was, which led to a collective decision to bring him and his truck back to the fire station.

“We were able to use a little bit of persuasion and talk him into coming back to the firehouse with us,” Clapp said.

Clapp says once Violette was brought back to the station, they made sure to treat him as one of their own as they fed him and allowed him to stay overnight.

Clapp says after searching the man’s truck and belongings while he was asleep, they found out who he was. He was from Aiken, South Carolina, and been reported missing for hours.

“Looking at the timeline and his GPS, we realized he was pretty far away from where he should’ve been,” Clapp said.

Clapp says it appeared that Violette was headed to Shallotte, NC.

While speaking with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Clapp says he was finally able to connect with Violette’s family.

“We were able to make contact with his family,” Clapp said. “Spoke to his wife and son, who were very grateful that we found him.”

Clapp says they were glad to take Violette home to his family Monday morning, but appreciated his company despite the scary situation.

“Got up the next morning and took him to Bojangles,” Clapp said. “He said he’d never had Bojangles before.”

Clapp went on to say, “If that was my grandpa, my dad, or any of our crew’s family we would want somebody to do that for us.”

Clapp says on top of taking care of Violette, they made him an honorary crew member for the day.