ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – A close call for an elderly Limestone County woman who wandered away from her rural home Thursday night and was presumed lost for approximately two hours. The ordeal began just after 7PM Thursday night when the woman was discovered missing from the family’s home on Highway 127 north of Athens.
“We knew she wouldn’t get far but in the dark it was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said. He declined to name the victim out of respect for the family’s privacy but described the woman as an 88-year old dementia victim who had just recently been released from a local hospital following surgery.
Because of the woman’s age and weakened condition, Blakely said the decision was made quickly to put the department’s helicopter in the air with a thermal imaging device to aide in the search, as well as call in search dogs from the Limestone Correctional Facility at Capshaw.
Approximately two hours after the search began, the helicopter’s spotlight helped illuminate n area less than a hundred yards from the home where the woman was found lying in what Blakely described as a hedgerow “in a fetal position.” She was transported to Athens-Limestone Hospital by ambulance.
Blakely says his department has special equipment for families of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It’s a small bracelet with an embedded transmitter the patient wears that will guide rescuers to them should they become lost.
“If she’d had that bracelet on, we could have found her within minutes instead of a couple of hours,” Blakely said.