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Draper Journal

Draper mother and daughter rescue elderly patient who'd wandered away from assisted living facility

Oct 28, 2020 02:59PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

Megan Pace and her daughter Shianne were honored by Police Chief John Eining for locating an elderly woman who had wandered away from a Draper assisted living facility. Police and fire had been called out to look for the missing woman, but it was the mother and daughter duo who found her. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)

By Mimi Darley Dutton|[email protected]

Stories like this don’t always end well, but Draper got a happy ending when a mother and daughter found a woman with dementia who’d wandered away from her assisted living facility. 

“It was because of the caring nature of these two who stopped to intervene with someone who needed help,” said Draper Police Chief John Eining. 

Draper resident Megan Pace and her daughter, Shianne, were driving around town, doing errands on a sunny Sunday in early October, when Megan noticed an older woman out for a walk. The woman was dressed in a blue striped shirt and had her gray hair in a ponytail. Megan caught a glimpse of her as she drove by and assumed the woman was walking for exercise. 

Megan and Shianne went about their errands but came across the woman again in a completely different area of town.

“I first saw her on 14600 [South] and Traverse Road by the Chevron at about 12:30. Then again at about 4. She had walked far to where there aren’t even walking trails. She was almost to Redwood Road. From point A to point B is quite a distance,” Megan said.

When the mother and daughter saw her the second time, they drove past her, went through a roundabout, then circled back. “It was just instant. I had an overwhelming prompting,” Megan said.

Megan recounted how she handled the situation. She said to the woman, “I noticed you’ve been walking for a while. Do you need a ride?” The woman accepted. Megan asked more questions and realized the woman didn’t know her address, just her name and that she lived in Draper. Megan called her dad to ask his advice on what to do. Because the woman said she was from Draper, he advised Megan to take the woman to the police department. That’s exactly what they did.

It was warm and the woman had been walking for hours. “She was really thirsty,” Megan said.

Little did Megan and Shianne know that Draper police had been called about the missing woman at approximately 1 p.m. that day. They had notified a mix of 20 fire and police personnel to be on the lookout for her. But it wasn’t the authorities who found her, it was everyday people.

Upon arrival at the Draper police department, and because of COVID protocol, the ladies sat in their car and called the department’s dispatch number. Officers came out and determined it was the woman they’d been looking for. Because the woman seemed comfortable and content in the car with Megan and Shianne, they asked her if it would be OK if the ladies drove her back to where she lived. The woman agreed, and Megan and Shianne delivered her safely back to her assisted living facility with a small police escort.

This story offers an opportunity for lessons for all of us. The chief encourages residents not to hesitate to call police if something doesn’t seem right. 

“Most of the success we have in law enforcement happens when the citizens get involved. We never consider it a waste of our time. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s a high probability it isn’t right. We get a lot of complaints that turn out to be nothing. That’s OK, too. We want all the calls. That’s our mandate, taking care of each other,” Eining said. 

Megan and Shianne received a small gift from the police department in gratitude for their actions that day. The ladies were quick to say they weren’t seeking recognition or gifts. 

“It was super humbling for me and it taught my family the importance of being aware and acting on those promptings, even when it’s inconvenient. I’m not a hero, I’m just an instrument,” Megan said.