CARRIZOZO, N.M. (KRQE) – An elderly man from Arizona ended up in a New Mexico gas station.  He had no idea where he was; that’s when three convenience store clerks stepped in. “Well, when he first got here, he had come in and said that he was lost, and he was trying to get to Chinle, and we didn’t know where that was,” said Valero store clerk, Melissa Zamora. 

Melissa Zamora is a clerk at the Valero Gas Station in Carrizozo. 

She said when 80-year-old Vietnam Veteran Wilson B. Shirley came into her store, she knew right away something was wrong.  

She said he left the store but came back a second time. When they asked him a few questions, they could tell he was confused and needed help. “I said jokingly at first, I hope this man is not a victim of a Silver Alert,” said Zamora. 

Melissa’s suspicions were correct. Wilson is originally from Round Rock, Arizona, and he suffers from Dementia. 

His family believes Wilson got into his car on January 10 and drove to visit family in Albuquerque. That’s when he got lost. The Navajo Nation Police Department issued a Silver Alert that same day. “When we first heard that Wilson was missing, it was of course shocking, very distressing, but I think we were hopeful,” explained niece Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle. 

The clerks charged Wilson’s dead phone and started making calls from it. Wilson’s family said their prayers were answered when they got a call from the Valero Gas Station. “I’m glad I will be with my family again,” said Vietnam Veteran Wilson B. Shirley Sr. 

The store clerks said they also have family members who suffer from Dementia and understood the stress the family was going through. 

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“I think we were just kind of genuinely happy to be in the right place at the right time, and like I said, we got to meet a beautiful soul, and that was nice that was good,” said Valero store clerk Dominique Zamora. 

Wilson is back home now in Arizona. His children were very thankful.  

You can read their statement: 

We would like to thank family and friends for they’re efforts, thoughts and prayers. A big thank you to Officer Benally with the Navajo Nation police missing person dept.  We believe he went above and beyond his call to duty. Thank you Lincoln County Sheriff’s department, also New Mexico’s state troopers, city police and all the sherriff’s departments for participating in this search. Now, we want to send a huge thank you to the citizens of New Mexico. Without your help, we would have not found our father, especially the three clerks at Valero gas station. Dominique, Melissa, and Selma Zamora. The three clerks who took action after noticing our dad was confused.  

If not for any of these agencies and people, I believe this could have been a different outcome.   Dementia is a condition that affects many families. We all need to continue to be aware Silver Alerts. Social media has become a new and very useful tool in aiding these situations. Once again, thank you very much for helping us find our father.

– The Shirley family