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Missing 89-year-old Farmington woman is found

Farmington police have located 89-year-old Evelyn Bistodeau, who wandered away from her home early Tuesday morning.

A Tuesday morning search for a missing 89-year-old woman ended with the woman was found safe and alive three hours later.

Evelyn Bistodeau was reported missing from her home on the 1000 block of Pine Street just after 8 a.m. Tuesday, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist said. Bistodeau lives with her son, who had left earlier in the morning to have breakfast. When her son returned home, he found that his mother was gone.

Bistodeau has dementia, and uses a walker to get around. According to Lindquist, she had left her home last week and walked as far as Dairy Queen before she was found.

However, Bistodeau did not take her walker when she left this week. With that in mind, police started their search by covering the roads, trails and sidewalks closest to her home, then spread out from there.

“We hit everything that we could quickly cover. She had a couple hours’ start, but we also assumed that since she didn’t have her walker she wouldn’t be mobile,” Lindquist said.

Knowing there was a large, open field nearby, Farmington police called in the Minnesota State Patrol and requested a helicopter to conduct an air search. A St. Paul Police K-9 unit was also dispatched to Farmington to aid in the search.

“We pulled out all of the stops,” Lindquist said. “To cover all of that open area to the east of her residence on foot would take an army of volunteers.”

Bistodeau carried her cell phone with her when she left, and it was that cell signal that led searchers to the wooded area south of Dodge Middle School. A Farmington firefighter found her just after 11 a.m. under a train trestle on the path along the Vermilion River.

She was brought out of the woods and evaluated on the scene, then transported by ambulance to Northfield Hospital for further evaluation.

Not every such search and rescue ends as well, Lindquist said. Tuesday’s incident could have ended much differently. He’s thankful it did not.

“You can’t look everywhere somebody can go. You just can’t. You don’t know how far they have gotten. There are many accounts of elderly folks who leave and make it miles before they are found. She could have gotten picked up and been given a ride somewhere, or she could have gotten into the cattails by the ponds and fallen and hurt herself. In these types of situations, you search as long as you have to,” he said.

“The sense of urgency for us is always there when someone is reported missing.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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