Waitress who found missing man: 'I love helping people'

Maria Barden said she was happy to play a role in what seems like a happy ending in the search for a missing man in Shelton.

Barden contacted police about a customer at the Huntington Street Café who ended up being the man who had unexpectedly fled into the woods the night before at Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes, where he was a patient.

“I feel great,” the 20-year-old Shelton resident said on Wednesday morning. “I love helping people.”

Barden, who serves in the National Guard, works as a waitress at the Huntington Street Café, which is near the Huntington Green.

The café is about two miles from Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes.

She had served breakfast to the man, and began to wonder about his circumstances because he stayed for an extensive period. She eventually noticed he didn’t have any shoes on, and called her boss to ask about the situation.

Police called, arrived quickly

After her boss told her the man might be the person missing in Shelton, Barden called police and officers arrived within minutes at the café to help the missing man, William Luciano, 47.

Officers briefly spoke to Luciano at the café, and then he was transported by ambulance to a hospital for observation.

Barden did not know that more than 100 emergency workers had spent much of the night looking for Luciano after he had disappeared from the rehabilitation facility.

“I’m glad I could help without really being aware of the situation,” she said.