At 5:30 PM Wednesday Coquitlam SAR was contacted by the Burnaby RCMP to assist in the search for a missing 61 year old woman with dementia at Lougheed Mall. The woman was last seen at 1:30 PM that day, in the mall.
The team activated and 22 members searched wilderness, parks and interstitial spaces between industrial, park and highways.
A missing person with dementia can walk a very long distance and use transit. They often do not know they are lost, and do not ask for help. An urban search like this is much more difficult than a wilderness search where the person might be staying in one place, and attempting to make themselves visible.
The team searched for several hours before running out of likely places to search.
At noon Thursday December 18th the missing woman was found in Cloverdale, BC, a distance of over 24 kilometres from where she was last seen.
While the missing woman was found alive and well, spending the night out on a rainy December is a life threatening situation for someone unable to properly seek shelter or ask for help. A most fortunate end to this search, and highlighting how difficult it can be to locate someone with dementia.
This search makes Coquitlam SAR’s 31st search in 2014, down slightly from 2013’s total of 39.