K-9 Officer Tracked Down Missing 85-Year-Old Woman With Dementia Who'd Fallen Into a Ravine

Loreta Dabajo went missing Wednesday morning.
Loretta Dabajo disappeared Wednesday. Facebook

The elderly woman had wandered away from her son's New Jersey home, police said.

An 85-year-old woman who wandered away from her son's home was tracked by a K-9 officer to a ravine, where she had fallen and couldn't get back up, police said.

Loreta Dabajo, who has dementia, was reported missing Wednesday morning by her son, Christopher, who went to wake her up about 9 a.m. and found her bed empty.

After searching their home and yards, the Dabajo family contacted police, who in turn contacted the Essex County Sheriff's Department to ask for the loan of a sniffer dog, authorities said.

The dog, K-9 Officer Joe, was given Loreta's pillow to inhale her scent, then turned loose outside the house. Joe went to several backyards before leading investigators to a ravine, where Loreta was found on the ground.

"Oh, I almost cried when I saw my mom lying there," Christoper Dabajo told CBS News. "It was scary when I saw my mom lying there in the leaves, so scared."

Outside of a cut on her hand, the woman was not physically injured. Dabajo said his mother recalled nothing of what happened. Her memory has been impaired for a few years, but she hadn't wandered off like this before, he said.

She is recuperating at a local hospital.

Her family is grateful for the quick response of law enforcement, and especially for Officer Joe.

"That dog is like a hero to us," Dabajo said.