CARRIZOZO, NM (KRQE) — An elderly Arizona man ended up at a gas station in New Mexico. He had no idea where he was; Then three employees of a supermarket entered.
“Well when he got here he came in and said he was lost trying to get to Chinle and we didn’t know where that was,” said Melissa Zamora, a sales clerk at Valero.
Melissa Zamora is an employee at the Valero gas station in Carrizozo.
She said that when 80-year-old Vietnam veteran Wilson B. Shirley walked into her store, she knew immediately something was wrong.
She said he left the store but came back a second time. When they asked him a few questions, they realized that he was confused and needed help.
“I said jokingly at first, I hope this man isn’t a victim of Silver Alert,” Zamora said.
Melissa’s suspicions were correct. Originally from Round Rock, Arizona, Wilson suffers from dementia.
His family believes Wilson got in his car on January 10 and drove to Albuquerque to visit family. That’s where he got lost.
The Navajo Nation Police Department issued a silver alert the same day.
“When we first heard that Wilson was missing, of course it was shocking, very depressing, but I think we had hope,” said niece Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle.
The employees charged Wilson’s dead phone and began making calls. Wilson’s family said their prayers were answered when they received a call from the Valero gas station.
“I’m glad to be back with my family,” said Vietnam veteran Wilson B. Shirley Sr.
The store employees said they also have family members who have dementia and understood the stress the family was going through.
“I think we were really lucky to be in the right place at the right time and like I said, we met a beautiful soul and that was nice, that was good,” says Dominique Zamora, saleswoman at Valero.
Wilson is now back home in Arizona. His children were very grateful.
You can read her statement:
We would like to thank family and friends for their efforts, thoughts and prayers. A big thank you to Officer Benally of the Navajo Nation Police Missing Persons Division. We believe he went above and beyond his call to duty. Thank you to the Lincoln County Sheriffs, New Mexico State Troopers, Metropolitan Police and all Sheriffs for participating in this search. Now we want to send a huge thank you to the citizens of New Mexico. Without your help we would not have found our father. Especially the 3 employees at the Valero gas station. Domonic, Melissa and Selma Zamora. The 3 staff who took action after noticing our father were confused.
If these agencies and people hadn’t existed, I think this could have had a different outcome. Dementia is a condition that affects many families. We all need to remain aware of the silver warnings. Social media has become a new and very useful tool to support these situations. Thank you again for helping us find our father.
– The Shirley family