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Search widens for missing elderly McFarland man

Search widens for missing elderly McFarland man »Play Video
Bartolo Rodriguez is seen in a photo supplied by police in McFarland, Calif. The 83-year-old man was reported missing Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.

McFARLAND, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The search has widened for an 83-year-old McFarland man missing since Friday, and police are asking for the public's help to find him.

Police said Bartolo Rodriguez was last seen in the 300 block of 7th Street.

Monday morning, McFarland police told Eyewitness News they're following up on some tips, and they've also asked for help from other agencies, and for a statewide alert.

Rodriguez's family contacted police Friday afternoon and said he has heart problems, Alzheimer's and may be sick with pneumonia.

McFarland Police Sgt. Mike Weber said officers have scoured the area and fanned out on Monday.

"We passed out fliers as well as pictures from our exit, Sherwood, all they way to Lerdo Highway and (Highway) 99 northbound and 99 southbound," Weber said. "So far, everybody said they haven't seen or recognized anybody matching his description."

Rodriguez is described as 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes. Rodriguez was wearing a red baseball cap, black-and-red checkered zip-up sweatshirt, tan pants, and using a black cane to walk, according to police.

Police said they've searched for the gentleman about a half dozen times in the past four years.

"He just walks," Weber said. "He just loves to get out and walk, and he's pretty good at it, too. He's been located as far as Earlimart, Calif., which is obviously, as you know, several miles northbound from here."

In the past, police said they've managed to find Rodriguez in a matter of hours. He's usually been spotted someplace like an orchard or field.

This time they did get a possible tip a day after he went missing. That was Saturday, and someone reported an elderly man along Highway 99 near the Famoso Road exit.

"We conducted an area search," Weber said. "We were unable to locate him or anybody matching a possible description of an elderly man on the freeway."

On Monday afternoon, Weber said his department had also asked the Kern County Sheriff's Office if their air unit could be used to search outlying areas. He said they also asked if blood hounds could be sent up from Riverside.

McFarland police also asked for a Silver Alert.

"Which is somewhat similar to the Amber Alert, however it's for the elderly and missing," Weber explained. "Due to the grave concern for his physical health and mental capacity, we've done that statewide with the CHP."

Under a Silver Alert, notices about a missing senior citizen can go out to departments across the state. Sometimes messages can also be put on the big freeway signs.

Weber said they have serious concerns about Rodriguez due to how long he's been missing, and the recent chilly overnight temperatures.

Weber urged anyone who may have spotted Rodriguez to call 911, or  McFarland police at (661) 792-2121, or the department tip line at (855) 435-7623.