CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been one week since rescue crews in Orange County found MaryAnne Roseman alive — after she vanished for three days.
The 75-year-old woman has dementia and she had wandered into woods a mile and a half from her home.
On Friday, Rosenman’s husband Julian spoke out at a press conference where he thanked the rescue crews for bringing his wife home safe.
“It has been a terrible week, but it has been an amazing week,” Rosenman said. “Personally I never thought she could wander off, for years I have been taking care of her, and she never did. Things like that do not happen until they do.”
Rosenman said at first he didn’t think it would take long to find her.
“The first day I was sure they would find her in the afternoon,” Rosenman said.
However, the search went on for two more painful days.
“Going in the third day, I think all of us kind of felt she was not going to be found,” Rosenman said. “And if she were eventually, it would not be alive.”
After 53 hours of searching, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office called Rosenman for the 50th time — this time to tell him they had found his wife and she was alive.
“I remember my son and my sister-in-law were in the car just going, ‘oh my gosh!'” Rosenman said. “I was speechless. My only thought was I want to get home and see her. It was pretty amazing.”
Crews found Rosenman lying in a stream in thick woods a mile and a half from her home. Rosenman rushed to see her.
“I said ‘MaryAnne, I love you’,” Rosenman said. “She looked at me while she was in the ambulance and said ‘hi’.”
Rosenman wants to warn other families with loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia to get them Life Track bracelets so that authorities can find them more quickly.
He said MaryAnne has one now.
“If you have a loved one, think about the worst that can happen,” Rosenman said.
Rosenman said he also wants to bring attention to the importance of getting Orange County Alerts.
As crews searched for Rosenman, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office sent out alerts through their reverse 911 service in which they asked the community for help.
However, the only phones to automatically receive those alerts were landlines.
“Landlines used to be easy, but most people don’t keep a landline anymore,” said Alicia Stemper with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Stemper said they are urging residents to go online to ReadyOrange.org to register their cellphones so they can receive these alerts.
“You opt into that and craft what numbers and email addresses and what order they contact you,” Stemper said.
In one neighborhood, Orange County officials said out of 244 houses, only 12 to 14 homes were registered and received the alerts they sent out about Rosenman.
Officials said if more people had received those alerts while crews searched for Rosenman, more of her neighbors could have searched their backyards and streets and possibly found her quicker.
“A localized warning system like this allows us to geocode and geographically alert the population very specifically,” said Kirby Saunders, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Orange County.
Officials are urging people to register so they can receive alerts not just for missing people, but so they can be updated on important local incidents, such as severe weather, crimes, or other dangerous situations in the community.
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