HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) Trina Woodward, 76, who’s in the early stages of dementia, disappeared after leaving at around 1:30 p.m. Sunday from her home in Midlothian to drive to a relative’s house in Cleburne.
Trina Woodward, 76, with her daughter, Courtney Brasfield. (Courtesy photo)
She was found 24 hours later in Central Texas in no small part because of the kindness of strangers including a woman who lent her a cellphone a Waco police officer who helped her find a hotel room, and thousands who shared social media posts about the search for her.
‘I’m amazed,” Woodward’s daughter Courtney Brasfield said Tuesday.
“I’m amazed at the goodness there still is in the world. The amazing , amazing amount of goodness of people getting up to go search for someone they don’t even know, who don’t even know me, in the middle of the night. So thank you all and God is good.”
Woodward’s family reported her missing at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and then heard from her about four hours later when she used a cellphone she borrowed from a woman at the Pilot Travel Center on Interstate 35 to call her daughter.
“My number is the only one she remembers. I’ve had it for 20ish years,” Brasfield said.
Brasfield missed the call because she was on an airplane, but as soon as the plane landed, she called the number back.
The stranger on the other end told her that her mother had already left the travel center on the south side of Waco.
“I knew she was probably safe but you always like to get your eyes on and arms around a missing loved one,” Brasfield said.
After leaving the gas station, Woodward encountered a Waco police officer, stopped and asked for help in finding a hotel.
“At that point, mom was going to try and drive home, but was still confused in Waco and decided to stop and ask the officer,” Brasfield said.
The officer, who had no idea she was missing because a statewide Silver Alert wasn’t issued until around 4 a.m. Monday, escorted her to a nearby Comfort Suites hotel in the 800 block of Interstate 35.
Brasfield, meanwhile, turned to Facebook to ask for help in finding her mother, updating the information, which at one point was shared nearly 6,000 times.
Monday morning her husband tracked a charge on his missing mother-in-law’s credit card to the Comfort Suites, but because of privacy laws couldn’t get the hotel to confirm if Woodward was staying there.
Brasfield began driving south, placing a call to the Waco Police Department, which found Woodward with hotel manager Sharon Cooper, who, the family says, cared for Woodward until Brasfield arrived to pick her up.
“She got her breakfast and took her to her room. She was just perfectly wonderful and amazing,” Brasfield said, also praising police.
“I just appreciate the fact that they took care of her, appreciate the way that even in the middle of what they were doing, they took her, they led her to the hotel and when they realized who she was the next morning, they went and found her, verified her and made sure she was okay. Just the kindness and tenderness they showed was amazing.”
Courtney said her mom has found humor in the difficulties that often come with aging.
“She asked me why we were so worked up. Said she knew all along where she was,” Brasfield said.
Woodward won’t be driving again until her family is able to equip her car with a system that allows relatives to locate her using a cellphone.
“She still has the mechanics of driving down, it is the confusion that sometimes gets her,” Brasfield said.