Family of elderly man hit by train says he has wandered away before

1 decade 3 years 8 months ago Monday, August 29 2005 Aug 29, 2005 Monday, August 29, 2005 10:54:24 AM CDT August 29, 2005 in News

Schwartzkopff's son, Jim, says the family has struggled for years to keep him safe.

"About 9 a.m. I got a call, 'your dad got away from me this morning,'" Jim Schwartzkopff said.

"How do you get hit by a train?" "It's just so improbable," said Jim Schwartzkopff with dismay. "But that's what he did, he wandered down to the train yard."

Jim Schwartzkopff said his father, a WWII veteran, has always treasured his independence. He loved to take a Sunday stroll and most of the time would head down the street west, toward Federal. But for whatever reason on this past weekend, he headed east instead.

No one saw him again until police and paramedics found him beneath a train around noon. "The crew said they saw blue... then they saw hands.... at which point they pulled the emergency brake and came to a stop," said Denver Police Detective Teresa Garcia.

Given how far he traveled it's no wonder family and caregivers couldn't find Schwartzkopff for hours. He made it through Ruby Hill Park, through Overland Golf Course where he collected golf balls, all the way across Santa Fe Drive to the train tracks.

His son says both legs are seriously injured and one will have to be amputated. The injuries have doctors puzzled. They said that Schwartzkopff doesn't have injuries consistent with being hit by a train, but it appears that he was dragged for a short distance.

They say he has several surgeries ahead of him and possible complications.

About 4 million Americans have dementia. It's different than Alzheimer's Disease. Jacob Schwartzkopff's dementia is due to a series of small strokes that damaged blood supply to his brain. He was under the care of a 24-hour companion service when he disappeared Sunday.

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