Several long days after vanishing from her home in Virginia, resident Aletha Gee Walton was discovered alive and family members were extremely relieved.e
The 69-year-old was alert when authorities found her not far from her residence in Prince Edward County, reports said Tuesday.
She had not been seen since May 15, and a search for her launched on May 17 once relatives learned she was gone and contacted law enforcement for help.
“I was so glad it was a happy ending,” Deidra Knight, Walton’s niece, commented. “At first, I didn’t know what to think, I was thinking of the worst. But when they said she was OK, I was so thankful, so thankful.”
In a social media post Wednesday, the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo of Walton and said authorities had been desperately trying to find her all night.
Walton was also suffering from the early stages of dementia, according to her family.
The term dementia describes symptoms affecting a person’s memory, thinking and social abilities enough to cause problems in their daily activities, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources said Monday it was asked to assist in the search for Walton, and Conservation Police K9 Officer Chaffin, his K9 partner Molly and tracking team member Officer Wilson located her.
The agency said officers gave her water, then waited for additional help to arrive. A photo appeared to show officials carrying a person out of the wooded area.
“So proud of these folks! Thank you for all that you do!” one social media user commented.
“Thank you for your hard work and dedication, you are the reason she can return to her family!!!!!” another replied.
Meanwhile, Walton’s family members said she was seated on a stump and singing the hymn “Amazing Grace” when officials spotted her.
“God was with her the whole time,” Sandra Knight, her sister, noted.