VIRGINIA BEACH -- 'He had his overnight bag, his shaving kit, and his drink, and he knew he was going home, so without thinking twice, he had all he needed, closed the doors and drove off,' Debbie Divelbiss told 13News as she stood next to her father.
82-year-old Dallas Divelbiss has dementia. He and his daughter were packing Debbie's SUV Wednesday to return home from the Outer Banks. When Debbie ran into their home in Duck to grab another load, her father found her keys underneath the driver' seat and left.
'From there on, it was panic in me,' Debbie said.
She called OnStar which would be able to find then SUV then track its movements. She got in touch with police in Duck. She also called Master Police Officer Allen Perry in Virginia Beach. Perry, who works with Project Lifesaver, knew Debbie and her father.
In November, Perry used information provided by OnStar plus Project Lifesaver's electronic tracking device to locate Divelbiss, who left Hampton Roads and wound up in Richmond.
Wednesday, Perry found Divelbiss on the Chesapeake Expressway.
'I caught up to him there, managed to get him stopped, get him pulled over safely, got his keys from him,' explained Perry. 'He's a very cooperative man once you get to talking to him, but he had no idea where he was or where he was going or anything else. Didn't realize he had left his daughter back in Carolina.'
Project Lifesaver is a non-profit program available throughout Hampton Roads. It provides seniors and children with disorders or conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease and Autism with electronic tracking devices. Should a person go missing, police or deputies can find them.
Nationally, the average time to find a missing person using the device is 32 minutes. In Virginia Beach, Perry said it's 22 minutes.
'I hear a lot of families say, 'Well, they've never wandered yet,' but the problem is the first time can be the last time, that first incident can be a fatal incident,' noted Perry.
In the case of Debbie Divelbiss, she's hoping the second time is her dad's last.
'I mean, 3 minutes, and my father was on his way. Thank God for Project Lifesaver is all Igot to say,' Debbie told 13News.