Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- It was a happy ending to a very stressful day after an 80-year-old woman who had been missing for eight hours was found in the Appling area.
"This was rough, it was a real rough one. It was heartbreaking, but it turned out to be good in the end," Dale Parks, Effie Lou's son said.
The fact that Effie Lou Parks has Alzheimer's disease made the situation even more terrifying.
"Not knowing where she is or if anything happened to her -- not knowing, that's the worst part," said Dale.
Her sister realized Parks wasn't in her bed around 8:30 a.m.
Parks' daughter, Juanita Parks, was worried sick all day.
"That's when panic mode set in," she said. "And everybody went to searching house to house door to door."
As the hours ticked by, her family began to fear the worst.
"Just wondering if she's OK, is she hurt, has someone picked her up, it's just every kind of thought you can think," her daughter said.
Parks was last seen by a neighbor walking down Terrace Road near her home. Friends and family, along with Columbia County deputies, combed the area nearby for nearly eight hours before they found her. She was found in the woods several blocks from her home.
"Every sheriff in Columbia County was here today. They was in the air, they was on the ground, they was with us 100 percent," her sister said.
Neighbors, friends and family also helped the search effort. Cleveland Paschal was one of them.
"We was going to our next step of getting fliers, going out in the community. Everybody was driving around. We had cars, we had people on bicycles everywhere," Cleveland said.
The reaction when the finally found Effie Lou Parks: relief.
"Everybody was real excited," Cleveland said. "I usually don't run, but I had to pull my pants up and run today!"
"I'm going to try to [sleep well]. I'm going to try to, but I might have to sleep with one eye open," Dale said.
Effie Lou's family urges people who care for Alzheimer's patients to keep an extra eye on them and do what they can to protect them from instances like this.