The 65-year-old Canning Vale man’s body was found in scrub on Albany Highway on Thursday by a roadworker more than a month after he disappeared from his home.
Mr Collett, who suffered from dementia, is believed to have become confused and disorientated when he went missing from on May 19.
Today, the family said, while they were heartbroken by his death, they were heartened by the efforts of search crews, which scoured about 10,000ha of bush.
“The response has been overwhelming and we will always be eternally grateful,” the family said in a statement.
“Our mission was to find Ian, regardless of the outcome. Whilst we hoped for the best, we were prepared for the worst, and now that he’s home we can lay him to rest.”
The family said they had formed a close relationship with some of the emergency services staff and Mr Collett would have been grateful for their efforts in trying to find him.
“Our hearts are heavy and we are all grieving in our own way and trying to remain strong for each other.
“We are certain that if Ian was here today and had clarity of mind, he would have been greatly touched and overwhelmed by the extensive effort that was carried out.”
Mr Collett was seen on CCTV at an Armadale fast-food restaurant on the day he went missing. He was later filmed on a dash cam walking along Albany Highway near Bedfordale.
Police Commander Brad Sorrell Sorrell said Mr Collett’s death was a sad reminder of how dementia could affect people.
“This is one of those circumstances where the family had done all they could,” he said. “Our heart goes out to them.
“If you see a person who looks like they are lost or walking aimlessly stop and ask them — often they will have the bracelet.”
The family urged people to donate to Altzheimer’s WA in Ian’s memory to “prevent a tragedy like this from happening again”. Donations can be made through https://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/ian-collett.
This article originally appeared on PerthNow.