Kevin O’Connor had been coordinating a search for a week for his missing brother Keith, chasing down every lead in an effort to find his brother.
So when he noticed that a call and a phone number came across his screen Saturday, he returned the call – even though the caller had not left a message.
The woman on the other end sounded like a hospital receptionist, Kevin O’Connor related Sunday. And O’Connor asked her if he could speak with his brother, not knowing if he was there. But when she patched the call through, sure enough, his brother Keith picked up the phone.
“Someone on the patient line answered, asked for his name, and then I heard his voice,” O’Connor said.
The call had come from a hospital in California. Kevin’s 35-year-old brother — Keith O’Connor, of Atlantic Street, Gloucester, reported missing in Gloucester for more than a week — had checked himself into the hospital in Rosemead, a community just east of Los Angeles.
O’Connor has battled mental illness and had been off medication, his brother said. His mother had reported Keith missing last Monday, and family members and police had thought he had been in the area, perhaps riding the commuter rails. But Keith had apparently caught a flight to California sometime last week, though Kevin O’Connor said the family has no idea of why, or where specifically he intended to go.
“We have tons of questions for him,” Kevin O’Connor said. “We only know limited things because we didn’t talk with him for too long.”
Police said O’Connor was last seen in Gloucester on Main Street on Friday, Nov. 2, and since his mother reported him missing Nov. 5, Gloucester Police, family and friends did everything they could to find him. Last week, police knocked on the doors of people he knew and made a host of phone calls looking for O’Connor.
Kevin O’Connor said the family put the word out over social media and through flyers. He said they had family and friends driving through Gloucester and Beverly, and keeping watch at every train station up and down the Rockport line.
The last tip they had, however, had placed O’Connor at Logan International Airport.
O’Connor said his family will talk with his brother’s doctors in the coming days, and look for a way to get him back to Gloucester if they can.
But, what matters most, he said, is that his brother is safe, and in a safe place.
“We couldn’t have done it without everybody, police, family, friends and the community,” O’Connor said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.