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Groves Alzheimer’s patient found in Houston

A Groves Alzheimer’s patient who was reported missing Thursday morning was located by a tow truck driver in Houston several hours later.

Johnnie Allen, 80, of Groves, was last seen about 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Gulf Employees Credit Union, 5140 W. Parkway St.

Groves Police received a call from a Houston towing service by early afternoon saying they had found Allen stranded in his 1999 burgundy and silver Ford F-150 extended cab truck in need of assistance, Groves Police Sgt. Wayne Graham said.

“It was then that the towing service discovered he was a missing person from Groves. Mr. Allen allowed the tow service to bring him back to the city.” Graham said.

Allen’s grandson, Jonathan Weatherly, said his grandfather ran out of gas — stranding the senior in an unfamiliar area.

“We don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t run out of gas,” he said.

Thursday’s incident is not the first time Allen’s family has had to search for Groves man.

About a year-and-a-half ago Allen became disoriented and drove to Louisiana where he was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, Weatherly said. Allen had been missing for five to six hours.

According to a publication from Alzheimers.com, “a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is not, on its own, a sufficient reason to withdraw driving privileges. The determining factor in withdrawing driving privileges should be an individual’s driving ability. When the individual poses a serious risk to self or others, driving privileges must be withheld.”

Weatherly did not say whether Allen’s driving privileges would be withdrawn.

More than five million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time and it is fatal. Today Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.