Troopers in Air, on Ground, Use Tracking System to Locate Missing Man

Massachusetts State Police File Photo

At approximately 6:30 p.m. yesterday the Massachusetts State Police Commonwealth Watch Center notified the MSP Air Wing that Somerville Police were searching for a missing person who was wearing a tracking device. The missing person, a 22-year-old man living with Autism, was last seen at a group home on East Albion Street in the early afternoon.

A Massachusetts State Police flight crew aboard MSP Air 4, one of the Air Wing’s helicopters, began a search over Somerville using their SafetyNet equipment, a system that allows first-responders to receive electronic signals emitted from corresponding SafetyNet devices such as the one worn by the missing man.

At 8:25 p.m. MSP Air 4’s mission crew — Trooper John Pina, Trooper Gregg Spooner, and Trooper Kevin Kaupp — began receiving a signal over the city and were able, over the next few minutes, to narrow the search area to an AutoZone store on Washington Street. Somerville Police then responded to AutoZone, where they were told that a man matching the description of the missing person had briefly entered the store and then run out several minutes earlier. Trooper Matthew Covino of the State Police-Tunnels Barracks, equipped with a handheld tracking device as part of the same system used aboard the helicopter, also responded to the area to assist with the search from the ground.

The MSP flight crew continued to track the signal and, at approximately 9 p.m., directed Trooper Covino to the area of Washington Street at Somerville Avenue. Trooper Covino began receiving signals on his handheld receiver and followed them to the Union Square Smoke Shop in Union Square, where he located the missing young man inside. The missing man was turned over to the care of local police.