Missing Woman with Dementia Safe After Sheriff’s Helicopter Spotted Her in Swampland

An elderly woman with dementia is lucky to be alive and safe after she wandered away from her hotel room but was spotted from the sky before she could get herself into any major trouble.

According to a report from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, 72-year-old Bessie Dodson, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease as well as another form of dementia, was staying with her caregivers at a Motel 6 in Daytona beach when she walked out of the hotel alone early on a Sunday morning.

Photo: Twitter/Volusia Sheriff

Bessie was last seen by one of her caregivers, who also happens to be her power of attorney, at about 1:30 that morning. Her other two caregivers, one of whom shared a room with her, saw her last at about 3 a.m. And at about 6 a.m., the caregiver sharing a room with Bessie noticed she was missing and that some of her clothing had been left behind the bathroom door.

The caregiver who noticed Bessie was missing phoned the caregiver who is her power of attorney, but the woman was asleep and didn’t receive the phone call until 10:30 a.m. The sheriff’s office was also telephoned, and they were able to get footage from the hotel showing Bessie leaving her room at 5:37 a.m.

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Photo: Twitter/Volusia Sheriff

The sheriff’s office sent out a helicopter to look for Bessie. At about 12:30 p.m., she was located in a swampy area of the Tomoka River, where it passes beneath International Speedway Boulevard, about half a mile from the hotel.

At the time she was recovered from the swampy area, Bessie was wearing a blue Christmas sweater and black shoes but no pants. She was wet and cold and didn’t know how she’d gotten to the river or why she was there, but she was overall in good physical condition.

Photo: Twitter/Volusia Sheriff

Bessie does not have any known family in the area, but the Department of Children and Families was notified about the incident. Bessie was taken to Halifax Medical Center to be checked evaluated.

It’s lucky Bessie’s caregivers were quick to action and that the sheriff’s office immediately sent out a search party. If Bessie had been found much later, she could have been injured or fallen ill. Thank you to all those who worked hard to save the day!

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