ALZHEIMER’S PATIENT FOUNDPublished 8:03pm Monday, April 8, 2013
More than a hundred search woods near woman’s home
Just after 9 p.m. Monday, voices rang through the woods, echoing from all sides – “Got her!” “They found her!” “They’ve got her!”
Octavia Ellis, an 86-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, was found five hours after authorities were notified she was missing.
“She’s all in one piece,” said Ellis’ daughter, Louise Danner, as she put her hand over her heart. “She’s OK.”
Ellis was last seen walking south of Springfield Baptist Church on Tennille Road about 2:30 p.m. with her dog, Jake. The Pike County Sheriff’s Office was notified about 4 p.m. that Ellis was missing and by about 6:30 p.m. more than a hundred rescue workers and volunteers had flocked to a command post at the church.
K-9 tracking teams from Ventress Correctional Facility combed the area and a Dale County helicopter with the capability to pick up body heat flew overhead in hopes of finding Ellis. With no swift luck, the volunteers counted off and worked in small groups alongside deputies and volunteer firefighters.
Danner and her sister, Brenda Lee, said they were surprised, and grateful, that so many people came to help their family.
“She gets turned around very easily,” Lee shared. “She just probably got turned around.”
Lee said her mother goes to a nearby cemetery each day to visit her husband who is buried there. She said that could have been where Ellis intended to go.
A horse team and a search and rescue team from Houston County were contacted and planned to join the search the next morning. The night grew dark, but Sheriff Russell Thomas said he was optimistic and that rescue crews would not leave the scene until Ellis was found.
Commissioner Ray Goodson and Emergency Management Agency officials came to provide, Gatorade and water to volunteers and prepared to settle in for a long night.
Then, at about 9:01 p.m., the good news could be heard bouncing from search group to search group by way of cheers.
“Thank God. Thank God, she’s OK!” Thomas said with a huge smile. “We’ve got her.”
Ellis was found by a search-and-rescue crew in an open field by a pond less than a half-mile from her home. CARE Ambulance administered first aid and reported to Thomas that Ellis had scratches and injuries to her right arm, but no major wounds.
“Thank you,” Danner said to volunteers as they passed, hugging some of them. “I know we will not be able to talk to everybody, so please help us pass along a big thank you from our family.”
Volunteers, family, friends and rescue crews gathered around to end the night as it began – with a group prayer.
“Father, we realize that sometimes tragedy comes. But it just makes our hearts feel good that the leaders in our community and our neighbors care enough to come out and stay as long as it takes to find one of our own. And Father we thank you for that in our community. We thank you for your love and your mercy and your grace.”
Ellis’ dog, Jake, a small white terrier, was not found Monday night.