Home at last: Missing Olean man spotted by good samaritans and reunited with family

Olean

OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — After a harrowing 13 days, 22-year-old Cole Geise, the young man from Olean who went missing, is now home with his family. And that’s thanks to two good Samaritans who thought they recognized Cole and took action.

“You get to day 13 and you start wondering,” said Steve Geise, who’s Cole’s dad. “You wonder and you start getting a couple negative thoughts in your head like alright why hasn’t he been seen?Where is he at?”

It really was a community effort to try and find Geise. People in Olean were on high alert, they knew what he looked like and that’s what helped multiple people at a Wendy’s restaurant spot him Saturday night.

“I’ve known Cole since second grade. I graduated with him. I know him. I haven’t kept in contact with him the past couple years but I know his mannerisms enough to know his walk,” Shift Supervisor at Wendy’s Lyaness Batista-Benett told News 4. “I saw his walk and it instantly brought upon this feeling. Holy crap it’s him.”

Geise went missing on May 2, then almost two weeks later several people spotted Cole coming out of the bathroom at this Wendy’s on North Union Street in Olean. They say they immediately knew it was the missing man. They then followed him from a distance and called the police. They say they’re just happy they were in the right place at the right time to get him home.

“It feels good that he’s home safe,” said Olean resident Jeremy Koch, who was one of the people who contacted police. “I got kids. I know how it is. If one of my kids went missing I’d be frantic too.”

“It’s really good timing and I’m eternally grateful for being there at that moment to see him just to finally get him home to be with his family. It’s just long overdue and knows everyone is at ease we can breathe and things are at peace again,” Batista-Benett said.

Cole’s disappearance prompted multiple search efforts from his family, police and the Olean community. Which residents say ultimately helped them spot him.

Cole is currently back home and safe with his family.

“It feels amazing that’s all. To have him back home. To know that he’s safe. He had some bruises and was banged up a little bit but he’ll be alright,” Steve said.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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