An 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s is safe and reunited with family after she went missing in Palm Springs and was found in Santa Barbara County.
Around 12:40 a.m. on Christmas Eve, California Highway Patrol officers located a vehicle on the side of the 101 Freeway near Buellton, about 240 miles away from Palm Springs.
The driver was identified as 84-year-old Kate Finney. Officers described Finney as “emotional” and a “little confused.” She told them she had been driving when the vehicle stopped unexpectedly.
The responding officers were concerned for her well-being and began to look further into how she ended up on the side of the road.
They learned that she had left Palm Springs in her vehicle earlier that day and kept driving until she ran out of gas three counties over.
Officers contacted CHP dispatch to see if a “Silver Alert” had been issued for her, but there wasn’t; a “Silver Alert” is a CHP alert activated when an elderly person or a developmentally or cognitively impaired person is reported missing and believed to be at-risk.
CHP was eventually able to get a hold of Finney’s son in Oregon. He told officers he had been calling everyone, frantically looking for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Finney was eventually taken back with the officers to the nearest CHP station where she waited for her closest family members to arrive.
After several hours, Finney’s granddaughter, who lives in San Diego, arrived in Santa Barbara County to bring her home. According to CHP, Finney spent the remainder of the holiday in the safety and comfort of her granddaughter’s home.
Authorities recommend that anyone with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s or other cognitive health issues ensure that they are carrying proper identification, updated emergency contact information and a list of known medications and allergies.
If your loved one is reported missing, you should contact local law enforcement so that a Silver Alert can be issued to help locate them.