BUTTE FALLS, Ore. — It was a moment Richard Hendricks says he’ll never forget.
“When I come around the corner and see my mom sitting there… I was just overcome with joy,” he said.
His mother, Geraldine ‘Gerry’ Hendricks, spent three nights out in the cold in Butte Falls. The 80-year-old, who has dementia, was last seen at home on Saturday night.
Police initially believed she left wearing only her pink pajamas.
“She’d actually grabbed a sweatshirt,” said Hendricks. “And in the cold, I’m sure that just having that long john shirt and a sweatshirt on… saved her life.”
Search crews joined by a hundred volunteers searched day and night using drones, search dogs, and even aircraft.
Jackson County Search and Rescue says they were driving up a forest road on Tuesday afternoon when they spotted Gerry walking.
She was just two miles from her home.
“Her speech was a little slurred and she was unsteady on her feet, but that’s most likely due to the fact that she hasn’t [eaten] in a few days,” he said.
Richard says it took her a few minutes to recognize him.
But soon, She was back to her old self again.
“Her mouth was running a mile a minute… god bless my mother,” he said.
Although he admits, there were moments he feared the worst.
“There was that deep dread inside of me, that it wasn’t going to come out the way we wanted,” Hendricks said. “But I never quit praying.”
He says nothing compares to the moment he saw his mother alive and well.
“Tears of joy… overwhelmed with love and emotion… and thankfulness,” he said.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office says Hendricks was airlifted to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in good shape and without any apparent injury.
Like her son, police believe it was the extra layers of clothing that may have saved her life.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.