(09/11/13) - It's not the ending everyone was hoping for.
The search for 76-year-old Darwin Smith is now over after his body was found, Wednesday morning, in a heavily wooded area off of Pasadena Avenue, near Linden Road, in Mt. Morris Township.
It is about two miles northwest of where he walked away from his senior living facility, Genesee Gardens, at Linden and Calkins Roads, September 3.
Smith could have walked all that way, but police tell ABC12 there are also some subdivision side streets closer to where he was found by a waste water worker.
"A Genesee County waste water crew was clearing the area, checking sewer pipes, and one of their workers came across a body in the woods," said Flint Township Police Lt. Robert Battinkoff. "It was a one in a million chance they found him and we're obviously very grateful that it happened that way. It could have very well been a very long time before someone else would have come across him there."
Mt. Morris Township Police initially responded to the scene, but handed the investigation over to Flint Township Police as they have been handling the case.
Hundreds of volunteers spent the last week searching for Smith who was recovering from a stroke. Smith's church, Mayfair Bible Church, served as their command post.
Ron Adkins, with Shiawassee Search and Rescue, had his group in the area every day.
"We were averaging 40-50 searches a day," said Adkins. "We were here today. We were in Flushing when we got the call."
Battinkoff said there were no obvious signs of trauma and no foul play is suspected. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
"It didn't work out the way we wanted it too, but I'm glad we could get some closure for the family," he said.
"He's not here. We're going to miss him, but he's in a better place," said Darwin's son Jeff Smith. "In my mind, he had passed. But there was that small percentage that was unanswered. So this is, for, me it's closure."
Both Jeff and Battinkoff thanked the volunteers who searched tirelessly over the past week.
"It was amazing," said Jeff. "Our appreciation goes out to all of them."
ABC12 Main Station