Correction issued below
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – An Arizona man is back home with his family after going missing last week. Joseph Hill was found near the Mexico border, more than 500 miles from home and a New Mexico police department helped to track him down.
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“They said he just has a routine that he does every day. He gets up in the morning, drinks a cup of coffee, goes to the gym, sees his friends there,” said Loving Police Chief Frank Methola.
However, on September 28, Chief Methola says Hill’s routine was anything but normal. The 71-year-old, who suffers from dementia, never returned from the gym that morning.
Later that evening, the Texas Department of Public Safety pulled Hill over for driving 40 mph on I-10. Troopers could tell something was wrong, so they escorted Hill and his truck to Van Horn Hospital, leaving the keys in his possession.
“He got the keys and he actually proceeds to leave the hospital,” said Methola. The day after, Methola got a call from Hill’s daughter. She had been tracking her dad’s debit card use and noticed he’d recently used it at a Chevron gas station in Loving, New Mexico. Methola confirmed that Hill had been at the Chevron, by watching their surveillance tapes, and he worked with New Mexico State Police to issue a Silver Alert for Hill.
Methola says the same afternoon the Silver Alert was issued, Border Patrol Agents found Hill at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint in Texas. More than seven hours away from his home in Leveen, Arizona.
“He didn’t understand,” said Methola. “He thought he was still in Arizona,” he explained.
Methola says Hill’s family immediately went to pick him up in Sierra Blanca. His family says he’s doing well, and they’re working on making sure this doesn’t happen again.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Chief of Loving Police Department as Frank Methula. The correct spelling of his name is Chief Frank Methola.