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Feel-Good Friday Tells a Sanitation Worker’s Heroic Story of Saving the Life of an Elderly Woman with Dementia

It was among the coldest winter days of January in Caruthersville, Missouri, when Waste Pro Sanitation worker Macario Chism stopped into a convenience store on his way to work, a frequent stop for Chism. The cashier gave him the details of a Silver Alert. The following is the account of an incredible act of bravery that did not get much attention in Missouri or Arkansas. But it was this week's Feel-Good Friday feature.

The following story is from KAIT8 News:

Macario Chism stopped in a convenience store at 7 A.M. The store's cashier informed him that a Silver Alert had been issued for 82-year-old Thelma Bates, who suffers from dementia.

“The cashier was like, ‘Hey, there's an older woman. She's missing',” Chism remembered.

Chism left the shop and became part of the search along with other first responders. 

According to Fayettevile, Arkansas' KNWA News, Chism said, “I gotta find that lady, 'cause she[’s going to freeze], or she might be dead.”

Chism was within a couple of blocks of Mrs. Bates’s home when he saw something interesting about a backyard shop. “I [saw] the shop door had swung open from the wind, and it had closed, and that's when I noticed her on the ground in the shop,” Chism stated. “She raised up and then she fell back.”

Chism ran across a ditch and sprinted through two backyards before reaching Mrs. Bates, who was almost frozen. Chism removed his coat and covered her with it, then carried her back to the cab of his truck. He started the engine, switched on the heating, and wrapped Mrs. Bates's feet. Chism's truck is equipped with an onboard camera, and footage from the camera shows the moment when he put Mrs. Bates inside and tended to her. Chism then used his horn to signal to the others that he'd located her and was in need of assistance.

He explained to KAIT8 that as he looked for her, he was thinking of his own grandmother who passed away. “She died in my arms,” Chism declared. “I couldn't save her so I was just happy to save Mrs. Bates.”

First responders helped Mrs. Bates, comforting her. They took her to the hospital, where she was assessed. Despite the exposure and cold with some bruises and cuts, she was not in any way injured. This was due to Chism's desire to locate her and his swift response and concern when he found her.

“He was taking his time, he was paying attention, and he found her, and saved her life,” said Barry Gilmore, code enforcement officer for the town of Caruthersville. “I couldn't be prouder of the guy.”

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