Elderly Lawton woman found after wandering away from adult day care facility

Lawton_It was a scary afternoon on Monday for a Lawton adult day care center when an elderly woman walked away from the facility, and no one could find her for three hours.  Not only is the woman elderly, but also suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia - which is why the center quickly called police.  They needed to find the 81-year-old woman immediately.

The woman was found almost two miles away from the facility at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Pre-Release Center on Lawton's Southeast side.  She is safely back at the adult daycare center from where she wandered away.  Police say the situation could have been a lot worse had it not been a nice day, and without a team on the lookout for the woman.

When police are combing a neighborhood, they may often be searching for a criminal, but this day's "person of interest" was not someone dangerous.  "We received a call on an elderly female, 80 years old, that has Alzheimer's and Dementia, had walked away from an adult day care center," said Lawton Police Lieutenant Tom Crawford.

Because of her medical condition, police say they knew the environment near the center could be filled with danger.  "In the area that we are in, Cache Creek runs through here," said Crawford.  "There are a lot of woods.  Our concern was that she may have got off in the wood line and been injured, or fallen into the creek and been in the water."

Three hours into the search, the missing woman was found almost two miles away from the center.  "She was found by a lady down at 6th and Coombs by the Pre-Release Center, down there, who was in the park eating her lunch," said Crawford.  "She walked up and asked for a ride."

Crawford says it was a stressful search for everyone involved, but it could have been much worse.  "The weather was on our side," he said.  "If it had happened several days ago - we had freezing weather, ice and snow - the time frame would have been more of an importance, with ice and snow, had she been out in that weather."

Officials at the adult day care center did not immediately comment to 7News, but police say officials there still are unsure how she was able to leave that location.  Doors at the facility are locked with a keypad, and the are no windows.  Police say their best guess is that she followed someone as they left the center.

Because of the location of the daycare, several agencies such as the Lawton Police Department, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Lake Patrol, Code Red, and citizens with horses were asked to assist in the search.