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Arizona committee approves new alert system for elderly

PHOENIX — A proposal to create a new alert system for missing seniors aims
to protect elderly Arizonans who disappear unexpectedly.

The Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Government approved Senate
Bill 1097 on Monday. The bill would create a “Silver Alert” system modeled
after Amber Alerts, which notify the public when a child has gone missing. The
bill would require the state Department of Public Safety to coordinate emergency
alerts for seniors who have gone missing and who are thought to be in danger.
Local law enforcement must conduct an exhaustive search before an alert goes

Bill sponsor Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, said the bill was brought forward
by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels after an elderly woman went missing and
was found dead weeks later. The case involves an 86-year-old woman who suffered
from dementia and drove away from her St. David home in November. Griffin said
the woman was spotted driving erratically on a highway but that authorities were
not able to track her down. A hunter found her dead in the desert west of
Picacho weeks later.

“Had this been in place and she was stopped on the interstate, she would have
had a happy ending,” Griffin said. “Had this been in place we may have saved
that woman.”

Rep. Martn Quezada, D-Phoenix, thanked Griffin and said the bill could have
helped his own family when his grandfather went missing a few years ago.

Quezada said his grandfather went missing in Phoenix on a day the temperature
reached 122 degrees, and that his family found him after he was hit by a car. He
died shortly after.

“This could have extended his life a little bit longer,” Quezada said.


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