A Silver Alert is a public notification system in the U.S. to broadcast information about missing persons — especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities.

One was issued Thursday, June 9, after 80-year-old Bennie Ruth Bowell left her Los Angeles home around noon Wednesday, June 8, in her gray Cadillac to purchase lunch at a restaurant for herself and her grandchildren, who were waiting at home. Bowell had left her cell phone on the counter.

When she did not return, the family contacted the Los Angeles Police Department and filed a missing person’s report.

By evening the situation had grown desperate. Family and friends began searching the area, to no avail. The next morning, LAPD contacted the California Highway Patrol to issue a Silver Alert.

CHP’s Emergency Notification and Tactical Alert Center issued an all-points bulletin. Electronic message signs were activated in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino counties. The signs read: “At risk missing, gry cadi cts, lic/6BPF973.”

At about noon Thursday, 24 hours after Bowell had left to get lunch, a 911 caller reported a Cadillac matching the broadcast description driving south on Highway 243 in the Pine Cove area.

CHP Officer Mike Murawski, on patrol in the Idyllwild area, intercepted the slow-moving vehicle near the intersection of Marion View Drive in Idyllwild. When contacted, “Runaway Ruth” was disoriented, hungry and tired. She had reportedly been driving for more than 24 hours. When the family was informed, they were in tears and immediately left to reunite with Bowell at the San Gorgonio Pass CHP station in Beaumont.

Bowell’s family reached the station around 3:30 that afternoon, thanks to the concerted efforts of law-enforcement officers, the Silver Alert, one eagle-eyed 911 caller and Murawski.


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