By Katina Caraganis
TOWNSEND -- Luke, a 10-year-old black Labrador retriever who had been missing since his owner was struck and killed by a car Saturday afternoon as he walked the dog on Wallace Hill Road, has returned home safely, according to Townsend Dog Officer Mary Letourneau.
Gary Garafola, 57, was struck and killed by a 2004 Infiniti sedan driven by 19-year-old Trevor Thompson.
Luke ran away from the scene before officers arrived, and had not been seen since Saturday.
Letourneau said that just after midnight Monday night, a police dispatcher on her way home happened to spot a dog on the side of Wallace Hill Road that resembled Luke's description.
"She slowed down and he went into the woods. She called it into the station, and an officer was sent out," Letourneau said. "I heard it on the scanner and heard the officer on scene asking what the dog's name was. I immediately called dispatch and then went out to the scene to help."
While she and the officer were out looking, the Garafola family heard a dog barking at their back door, she said.
"We went over to the house and checked him out. He doesn't appear to have any injuries," Letourneau said. "The family was all in tears when we got there. They said he never barks. They wouldn't have known he was out there if he hadn't. If it was closer to Christmas, I would have called this a Christmas miracle."
She said both Garafola and Luke were known in the area and often took the same route on their daily walks.
Most recently, Garafola had been employed by the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, where he was a school-bus driver and driver-education instructor. He also worked summers with the Marcus Lewis Day Camp at Devens.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.