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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -
An 84-year-old woman with dementia is safe after a brave and determined city police officer discovered her in a ditch.
On Shasta Street in Lake Charles, the elderly woman went missing early morning on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
"We were actually on our way to work when she got the phone call that they couldn't find her," said Bernadine Thomas, a relative the woman.
Thomas said the whole neighborhood and extended family began searching for the woman.
"So, we joined in on the search and it took a long time so I said it was time to call the authorities," she said.
Lake Charles Police Officer Ryan Magee received the call. He went to the neighborhood, talked with the woman's family and filed the missing person report. Magee said the woman had severe dementia and had an episode the night before she went missing.
But Magee said he had a feeling that the woman couldn't have gone too far.
"I noticed a drainage ditch and something just told me to stop, pull over and look in that drainage ditch. And I started walking the drainage ditch and I found her," Magee said.
Magee found the woman partially submerged in the ditch water, shaking. Her socks and robe scattered in the field. The officer said the woman was disoriented and wasn't responding to her own name. Authorities said the woman was nearly in a hypothermic state.
"I jumped down to the ditch, pulled my rig belt off. I called out, told the dispatch to have Acadian (ambulance) en route. Told them to step it up," Magee said.
Out of the ditch and safe, the woman's family is thankful for that and for the officer's help.
"He's a hero. he didn't just take this as a case, he took it to heart. And for him to come back and see if she had been found and to go look where we had already looked, and look deeper, it was an awesome experience when he found her," Thomas said.
But Magee remains humble.
"I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm just a lucky guy that got the call and could help them. Anybody else at this department would have done the same."
The family said the elderly woman is in the hospital but doing well. They hope to get Magee a plaque as a token of their appreciation.
Lake Charles Deputy Chief of Police Mark Kraus said the department is proud of Magee.
"The Lake Charles Police Department is proud to commend Officer Magee for his bravery and initiative during this grave situation. He epitomizes the very essence of dedication, character and integrity that this department strives to find in each officer it employs," Kraus said.