Joaquin Lopez enjoys a walk around his neighborhood every day, but on Feb. 8 the 79-year-old, who has dementia, didn’t return home.
As the hours passed his family anxiously waited at their home in East Hollywood, California, but there was no sign of Joaquin.
The family reported him missing, put posters up around the neighborhood, and appealed for help in finding him on social media.
“My father-in-law is missing if anyone sees him please call local police in Hollywood,” Estela Bueno, Lopez’s daughter-in-law, posted on Facebook.
“He is wearing pink shirt and blk pant and hat. He’s name is Joaquin Lopez 79 yrs old and had dementia. Last seen on Western and Beverly. Height is 5’10.”
As the day turned to night and it got later and later the family started to worry something had happened to him.
“We were afraid, you know, maybe somebody could jump him, take his money away or you know … and he doesn’t know what’s going on,” Estela told KCAL-TV.
“We were all driving until 4 o’clock in the morning. Our family tried to come home and go to sleep. I couldn’t because everybody just kept on calling me.”
‘Thank God he’s back’
But the next day, more than 24 hours after Joaquin had gone missing, Estela’s mother-in-law went outside the house and found Joaquin standing there.
An Uber driver had brought him home from Culver City, seven miles from his home.
The family don’t know exactly what happened as Joaquin can’t recall much of his experience but according to the Uber driver an unknown woman apparently found him, checked his ID and hired the Uber driver to take him to the address listed on his card, paying for his ride.
The family have no idea how he ended up seven miles from his home but Joaquin did say he thinks he slept in some bushes.
“I hugged the lady,” Estela said of the driver. “I hugged her and I asked her if she knows who … the lady was, she didn’t know. She just told me she was Asian and that she had paid for it and to just make sure that this was the place where he lived.
“I just want to know where she is, who she is. I want to hug her. I want to thank her, because she brought him home.”
Bueno posted the good news on Facebook.
“I want to thank all the people for their prayers and great love you gave us for Don Joaquín Lopez,” she wrote. “Thank you for your help in sharing your disappearance and wanting to help. Already back safe and sound blessed be God. Thank God he’s back with his family.”
The family said they will always escort Joaquin on his walks from now on and have added an AirTag, a small tracking device, to his belt so they can track him should he go wandering alone again.
Thank goodness there was someone who cared enough that night to make sure he got home safely. This woman is a hero and I hope she comes forward so the family can thank her properly.