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Silver lining

Animas, NM, Retail Associate Mary McCarty

The man living with a traumatic brain injury thought he’d driven from New York.

But as he wandered around the parking lot at the Animas, NM, Post Office on a September morning last year — disoriented, distressed, his dog Maggie by his side, no vehicle in sight — Retail Associate Mary McCarty wasn’t sure what to believe.

She had arrived at work early that day, and she knew right away that the man, whatever his situation, needed help.

McCarty, who has EMT training, immediately checked his vital signs, got a chair and water for him, as well as water for Maggie, then called 911 and comforted him until emergency responders arrived.

It was soon determined that the man was the subject of a silver alert for vulnerable older missing persons, issued 24 hours earlier in Arizona, where he had moved from New York with his wife just days earlier.

Though normally not a driver, the change in routine had spurred him to take off with Maggie, traveling 160 miles before he ran out of gas in New Mexico and walked overnight through desert terrain to the Post Office, by which point he was dehydrated and hungry, with blistered feet, and had missed vital medications.

He and Maggie were soon reunited with their grateful family, who had feared the worst after his disappearance.

“I am not anything special, I just came to work early,” McCarty later told Albuquerque, NM, TV station KOB. “I would like to think that I just did what anybody would do.”

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