Elderly couple escape Tennessee assisted living facility using military Morse code training

An elderly couple briefly escaped from a secure memory unit at an assisted living facility in Tennessee thanks to past military training with Morse code.

The husband and wife, who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, broke out of the Elmcroft assisted living facility in the city of Lebanon in March, according to the Tennessean. The husband used his military training with Morse code to decipher and memorize the code to an electronic door lock.

The man was able to learn the door code by listening as staff punched numbers into the keypad, the newspaper reported, citing documents from the state’s health department.

The unnamed couple went missing on March 2 for about 30 minutes before a stranger found them walking down a road two blocks from the facility, according to the documents.

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FILE - A file image shows door handles on rooms and handrails along a corridor. (Photo by Robert Michael/picture alliance via Getty Images)

As a result of the escape, Elmcroft of Lebanon was fined $2,000 by state officials for failing "to provide daily awareness for the whereabouts of the residents." 

The assisted living facility also told state regulators it would prevent any future incidents by increasing rounds by the staff and scheduling a walking time for the man "outside the facility with a staff member present." It also changed codes on the exit doors of the memory unit, according to documents obtained by the Tennessean.

"The safety of our residents is the top priority at our senior living community," the statement read. "We are thankful both residents were returned to the community safely," Elmcroft said in a statement to FOX 23. "We reported the situation to the state and their family immediately after it happened and fully cooperated with the state during its review."

Lebanon is located about 30 miles east of Nashville. 

This story was reported from Cincinnati.