The Setauket doctor who went missing four days ago at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown has a police dog to thank for his safe return back home.
Jerome Nadler was discovered in a secluded section of the park woodlands at 12:15 p.m. Thursday lying on his back and “looked to be almost sleeping,” when a Suffolk County police K-9 dog sniffed him out, said the German Shepard’s handler, officer Sam Barreto.
“We couldn’t believe he was still alive,” fellow Suffolk K-9 unit officer William Krolikiewicz said of Nadler, who has a heart condition.
Nadler appeared to be in good condition considering what he’s been through, police said. He went missing on Labor Day while fishing at the park.
He was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he is being treated for exposure. Nadler’s family was at the hospital, police said.
A New York State parks police official said rescuers were “awe struck” when Nadler was found alive.
It was unclear how he ended up off the beaten path.
His family released a statement through the hospital thanking everyone who helped with the search.
“We would like to thank the New York State Forest Rangers, New York State Park Police, Suffolk County Police, including the K-9 and Marine Units, for their dedicated, untiring efforts to locate Jerome,” the statement read. “We are also extremely grateful for the love, support and prayers of our friends, family, community, and the Chabad at Stony Brook during this difficult time.”
The searchers crossed the river and a dam when the four-year-old police pup picked up a scent. When the dog investigated, he found a small fishing vial, which the two officers said looked “really new.”
After discovering the bottle, the officers began searching for more items when Chase wandered off, Barreto said.
They found him lying on the ground next to Nadler, who appeared to be sleeping. Laying down is Chase’s indicator that he’s found something.
“He’s a hero,” Barreto said of his furry partner, Chase. “We were already veering off and when we found that small vial, it caused us to stop and take a look and by taking a look…he must of got his smell…and he just left us. It’s what he’s trained to do.”
Krolikiewicz provided medical attention and gave Nadler water. They realized he was still conscious when Nadler smiled and opened his eyes.
“He was happy he was going to be going home,” Krolikiewicz said.
State parks police began the search for Nadler on Monday. He had been last seen entering the park.
For four days police searched the surrounding area and the waters off of Smithtown with the help of the Suffolk County Marine Bureau and other local agencies.
But it turned out that man’s best friend cracked the case. Chase has a “nice steak dinner” awaiting him, Baretto joked.