By Communications Coordinator Bowen Osoko
Alaska Airlines, Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the Royal Jubilee Hospital and Commissionaires BC and VicPD teamed up yesterday to locate a missing 65-year-old Buffalo New York woman and return her home.
Yesterday, at about 7:30 p.m., our 911 Communications Centre staff received a call from Ogden Point’s cruise ship contact reporting that a 65-year-old passenger was missing from the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines vessel Jewel of the Sea. The passenger had departed the ship just before 10 a.m. that morning and had not returned. After several exhaustive searches of the vessel which determined the woman was not on board, the ship’s crew was forced to continue on their way without her.
In gathering information about the missing woman from her family, officers learned that she had recently begun displaying dementia-like symptoms. Officers also learned that she was booked for a return flight home from Seattle the next day. Armed with video of the woman departing the vessel and a description, Patrol officers began to search the surrounding area for the missing woman.
A short time later we received a call from staff at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, who had located the missing woman. Officers arrived to find Fairmont Empress Hotel staff comforting the woman who was quite disoriented. She was transported to hospital for assessment.
It was at that point that a VicPD K9 officer took it upon himself to arrange transportation that would connect the woman with her flight home. Cst. Andre Almeida put the cost of the woman’s flight from Victoria to Seattle on his own personal credit card, anticipating covering the cost with his own person air miles.
“There was no other way to ensure she would make it back home,” VicPD K9 officer Cst. Andre Almeida said. “She needed help. It could be my Mom stranded somewhere and I would hope that someone would help.”
After a night in the hospital, VicPD Patrol officers connected with the woman to personally transport her to the airport in time to make her flights. Upon arrival, the patrol officer discovered that Alaska Airlines had decided to take over the woman’s care. They reimbursed Cst. Ameida for the cost of the flights, and ensured the woman made her connection in Seattle. CommissionairesBC staff kept her company at YYJ until her flight departed.
Cst. Almeida was quick to deflect praise for his above-and-beyond response to the situation.
“Alaska Airlines, the Fairmont Empress staff, the staff at Royal Jubilee Hospital, the Commissionaires, they all should be thanked for helping get an ill and scared woman back to her family.”
The woman is now safely back with her family in New York.