We're learning more about an elderly woman suffering from dementia who this weekend walked out of her assisted living facility on Tucson's east side.
Guillermina Lopez Leon, 71, was found the next day, on Sunday, in the desert not too far from her home.
Leon was supposed to be under 24-hour supervision but her caregiver says they were distracted with unloading groceries from their car when she slipped away.
"The car was there. We were bringing groceries back and forth," said Ruth Dempsey, the owner of Dempsey Adult Care Home.
Dempsey recalls what led up to the nerve-racking search for Leon. They thought she was in the bathroom but 15 minutes later, they realized she had walked away.
"I say, 'Where is Mina?' So, we started looking for her and we could not find her. We look around before we call 911," said Dempsey.
Dempsey Adult Care Home, located near North Houghton Road and East Catalina Highway, has alarm sensors on every door in the house and even on the outside.
But a padlock was unlocked for just a short time while Leon escaped.
Dempsey said, "It was very stressful because we care for our people."
The Pima County Sheriff's Department, with the help of neighborhood watch volunteers scoured the area Saturday night, desperately searching for Leon who is at risk because she suffers from dementia and is a diabetic.
Crews searched until 1 a.m. but that wasn't good enough for Dempsey.
"I get my big lamp, and I start looking because they look this way whenever," Dempsey said. "So, I went myself looking. I no sleep. Believe me, I went looking for my lady."
Her bulb burned out and she was left in the dark, having to call 911 a second time. This time, to rescue herself.
They found her, she got back home but says she couldn't sleep.
"I sit down waiting and praying because I care for my people. People in this job are here because they do it from their heart," said Dempsey.
The next morning, the good news came.
"One of the neighbors located the female," said Tom Peine, a spokesperson for Pima County Sheriff's Department. "She was lying in the desert and had apparently been there all night long."
Leon made through the night unscathed but Dempsey says she's too much of a risk. So she doesn't want her back.
Not having any family, Leon is staying at the hospital. A scary search turned into a good ending.
In November, Leon walked away from another adult care facility in the city of Tucson and was found a short time later.
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