Elderly couple with dementia found safe in Tacoma

Elderly couple with dementia found safe in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma store clerk says this has been "the best Thanksgiving ever."

Her alertness helped police find an elderly couple with dementia that had vanished from a care facility in Normandy Park yesterday.

At first Susan McConnell didn't like the idea of working the holiday. But that was all about to change.

"And honestly what happened this morning made it one of the best Thanksgivings I've had in probably many years," McConnell said.

What happened is that Dick and Doris Rogers walked into her gas station early Thursday morning. The two had just been featured on the news as missing, but McConnell didn't initially notice anything out of the ordinary.

The first time the woman came through the door she merely asked if the restroom was available and was told they were closed. But five minutes later, the same elderly woman came back through the same door and asked the same question. At that point, McConnell knew something was up.

"That was when I was putting two and two together, wondering if this was the couple I'd heard about on the news this morning," she said.

It turns out she knows all too well about the symptoms of a failing memory. Her dad suffers from Alzheimers.

She immediately called 911 and convinced the couple to come inside and get warm so they wouldn't leave a second time. 

"I could hear the 911 gal going 'That's him. That's our guy.' And I started shaking.  So nice to have a happy ending," McConnell said.

It turns out the couple had been driving around lost for 12 hours, according to their son, Jim Rogers.

"That was really wonderful that she saw something was going on and didn't just let it go," Rogers said.

As for coming to work on a holiday?

"Now it was for a good reason," McConnell said. "There was a reason I'm here today. Very thankful, very, very thankful."

The Rogers' family is thankful, too, saying this could have turned out so much worse.

A bill to start what's called a "Silver Alert" was introduced in the state legislature last session. It would be similar to an amber alert for missing adults. It'll be re-introduced in January.