New Mexico man with Alzheimer’s drives 552 miles from home, gets plane ride back

State & Regional

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) — An 80-year-old man from Alamogordo ended up 552 miles from home in a small town in Texas. That town was able to safely get him back home.

The man, who wishes not to be named, has Alzheimer’s disease, and left home for a cigar however, a quick drive turned into an eight-hour trip to Hood County, Texas.

He was spotted by Hood County deputies on U.S. Highway 377, driving erratically. Deputies quickly figured out he was confused and had no idea where he was and knew he needed help.

Deputies aren’t sure of the route he took to get there but knew they needed to get him back home.

At first, deputies planned on driving him back home to Alamogordo but it would take hours and resources away from the department. Instead, they reached out to a local volunteer fire department in Cresson, Texas for help.

The volunteer fire department has multiple volunteers who double as pilots and were able to swap drive time for air time. “I am helping people all the time that I don’t know, complete strangers. I get up in the middle of the night and do that this is no different than that,” said Valerie Steen a volunteer firefighter and EMT.

Steen was on the lake that day, but when she got the call she quickly got into work and prepped her plane. She flew the man home at no charge and the flight was a little over two hours.

The man’s car was left in Texas but deputies made arrangements with the man’s son to pick it up and get it back to New Mexico. The family didn’t want to be named in this story however, everyone involved is grateful everything worked out.

(Information from KRQE.com)

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