Lost and found

Published 2:38 pm Friday, September 28, 2012

AHOSKIE – Safe and sound.

That was the condition of a 70-year-old Alzheimer’s patient after a town-wide search here early Friday afternoon.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said the woman was reported missing by a family member, thus launching a search by members of his staff. That effort lasted only 30 minutes as a check of local medical facilities proved successful.

“She was found with another member of her family in a doctor’s office here in town,” Fitzhugh said, adding that he could not say if the woman went there on her own or was accompanied by a relative.

“All I can say is that we treated this situation as high priority,” Fitzhugh said. “When anyone with a cognitive impairment is reported missing the first few hours of an ensuing search are critical. What you do not want to happen is for that person to manage to leave town.”

At the time of the woman’s discovery (shortly after 2 p.m.), Fitzhugh said he was preparing to broadcast a “Silver Alert” – a service of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety that is designed to quickly disseminate descriptive information about the missing person so that citizens in the affected area can be on the lookout for the endangered person and notify local law enforcement with any relevant information.

“It was reported that this woman walked away from home while another adult family member there was asleep,” Fitzhugh said. “When the other family member awoke and discovered the woman missing she immediately contacted us. We began to check around the neighborhood where the woman lived and then broadened our search to include the homes of other relatives.”

Fitzhugh praised the work of his staff who quickly allowed this incident to have a happy ending. In particular, the chief touted the efforts of Captain Michele Garrett, Detective Sgt. Stephen White, Sgt. Donald Cuff and Officer Johnny Hoggard.

“They weren’t going to give-up searching until they found this woman,” Fitzhugh concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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