On Monday, 81-year-old Pearl Frisk went missing from her West Middlesex home and was found in West Virginia almost 36 hours later. Reporter Molly Reed sat down with Frisk and her family on Saturday to find out more about her journey.
WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. (WYTV) – For 36 hours, Pearl Frisk drove with no idea where she was going. The 81-year-old didn’t sleep — only occasionally stopping for food and gas.
“I have Alzheimer’s and I just don’t remember everything,” said Frisk, who left her West Middlesex home Monday around 3:30 p.m. “So I don’t remember any of this at all. I really don’t.”
Her granddaughters — Amanda Budzowski and Amber Haywood — led the search for Frisk, sending out numerous alerts on Facebook and searching more than a dozen cities and towns.
The first tip came on Tuesday.
That’s when Frisk had asked a police officer close to Pittsburgh for directions home.
“He gave her directions, from what we understand, back up north,” Budzowski said. “But because she looked OK and knew that she wasn’t supposed to be there, he didn’t run her plates or anything because she was just a woman looking for help.”
Frisk kept driving.
At one point, she stopped at a payphone, but for some reason it didn’t work. She accidentally left her address book there.
Frisk even stopped at a hospital in Greenville, Pennsylvania.
“They thought she was early for a doctor’s appointment — looking for a doctor,” Budzowski said. “So they gave her directions and sent her back out as well.”
Somehow, Frisk found her way down to Sistersville, West Virginia — five hours away from her home.
“It was amazing,” Haywood said. “She ran out of gas at a church and had her church bulletin in her purse and that’s how they knew to get a hold of us.”
Frisk’s pastor called Haywood Wednesday morning and the family went to get her. They recovered her unharmed, but confused.
Frisk remembers none of it, but said she’s more than OK with that being her last drive.
“Oh I won’t be driving!” Frisk said.
Budzowski and Haywood said their grandmother has never had any problems before.
They added that Alzheimer’s disease is something families can’t prepare for and you learn something new everyday.
“There’s not a road map,” Budzowski said. “It’s just not an easy process.”
They hope Frisk’s story will teach others to pay attention when someone asks for help.