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by Charlotte Smith

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a national database for missing people, reports an average of 90,000 people are missing in the nation each day. Recently, quick action from a concerned citizen and an Elizabethtown Police Officer led to a missing person being found safe.

According to Lt. Mark McMichael, Patrol Commander with the Elizabethtown Police Department, Elizabethtown Police Officer Schmale was at the Minuteman on South Poplar near the end of his shift on Friday, May 21, 2021. 

Officer Schmale was approached by a concerned citizen while at the convenience store. 

McMichael explained, “The citizen alerted Officer Schmale to an elderly woman who seemed lost. Officer Schmale began to speak with the woman and found that she was from South Carolina and was unaware of where she was currently.”

Officer Schmale did not end his shift at the scheduled time but conducted an investigation. He determined the woman was from the area of Rock Hill, S.C. According to the police report, the unidentified woman was reported missing on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

After his discovery, Officer Schmale contacted the family of the missing senior citizen, alerted them to her whereabouts, and confirmed she was safe. Although it was past his required scheduled hours of service, Officer Schmale waited with the lady in Elizabethtown until someone arrived from South Carolina to pick her up. 

Police Officers are a vital part of assisting in missing person cases. Officer Schmale and the concerned citizen exemplified the respect and concern the elderly population deserves this past Friday. 

For anyone who believes they recognize a missing person, contacting the police is the most crucial action to take. Details about the person are important and valuable to the police. 

According to Alz.org, everyone living with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is at risk for wandering. Common signs a person may be at risk of wandering include:

  • Returning from a regular walk or drive later than usual.
  • Forgetting how to get to familiar places.
  • Talking about fulfilling former obligations, such as going to work
  • Trying or wanting to “go home” even when at home.
  • Becoming restless, pacing, or making repetitive movements.
  • Having difficulty locating familiar places, such as the bathroom, bedroom, or dining room.
  • Asking the whereabouts of past friends and family.
  • Acting as if doing a hobby or chore, but nothing gets done.
  • Appearing lost in a new or changed environment.
  • Becoming nervous or anxious in crowded areas, such as markets or restaurants.

The Alzheimer’s experts add, if an older adult with Alzheimer’s or other dementia is not found within 15 minutes, call 911 to file a missing person’s report. Inform the authorities that the person has dementia.


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