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Driver tails elderly man, helping end Silver Alert for man missing for days out of Sarasota County

Richard Foellmer, 78, with dementia now home
Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-01 02:49:40-04

A Silver Alert is now lifted for an elderly man with dementia, missing from Sarasota County since Thursday. Richard Foellmer, 78, was picked up by Tampa Police after being alerted to his whereabouts by another driver.

Judy Cornett was heading out for an early morning grocery run Sunday when a car in the distance caught her eye.

"I saw this car with flashers on. So I proceeded to follow him just to make sure he was okay," said Cornett.

Moments later, the driver merged onto I-275 in Pasco County, heading south.

"When I drove up next to him and saw that it was an elderly man and he was nodding his head and yawning, I thought, you know, I need to call 911," Cornett said.

Something in her gut, told her to stay on his tail. The SUV was swerving all over and constantly changing speeds.

"He came so close so many times to crashing," said Cornett.

The SUV eventually pulled off the highway in downtown Tampa.

"We were doing lefts and rights and running stop signs and running red lights," Cornett said.

She stayed on the line with 911, relaying her every move. And nearly an hour after her pursuit began, Tampa Police tracked them down.

"I feel like it's out duty to take care of each other," said Cornett.

That's when she learned that driver, was 78-year-old Richard Foellmer, a Sarasota man with dementia, who had an active Silver Alert out on him. His wife, had been worried sick for days.

"My biggest fear was he would cause an accident, not just harming him, but harming somebody else," said Richard's wife, Kay Foellmer.

She calls Judy, who is a total stranger, her guardian angel, for helping police locate her husband and bring him home safely.

"I am very thankful somebody finally spotted the car. God bless her heart," said Kay Foellmer.

Kay Foellmer says the car keys will now be in a lock box, and she insisted on sending her guardian angel, Judy, a gas card, as a simple gesture of thanks. The two women are hoping to meet face to face in the near future.