An elderly Riverside woman reported missing by her husband Wednesday afternoon was hospitalized with hypothermia after police found her lying beneath a trailer parked behind a home on

Longcommon Road

Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said the woman was outside without a coat or shoes for more than an hour in temperatures around 10 degrees when a police officer walked down the driveway of the house at

37 Longcommon Road
and heard someone call out in a whisper, “Help me.”

The officer followed the sound of the voice to a trailer covered with a tarp. Underneath the trailer, in what police said was about 10 inches of clearance, the officer found the 78-year-old woman, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Weitzel said the woman lives just a few doors away from the place she was found.

“She was lying on her belly,” Weitzel said. “Officers had to drag her out and one officer carried her to the street, because she couldn’t walk. She was frozen stiff.”

Police placed the woman in the fire chief’s car, where she was evaluated by Riverside Fire Department personnel until an ambulance from Lyons arrived on the scene. Riverside‘s ambulance was on another call at the time police found the woman. She was taken to LoyolaUniversityMedicalCenter for treatment of hypothermia, Weitzel said.

The woman’s husband had first realized she was missing at about , and called police to say his wife was missing. The man had fallen asleep about an hour earlier, Weitzel said, and no one was sure how long the woman was outside.

Police, including members of the command staff, initiated a search in the downtown area, St. Mary’s, the library and post office. They gave a description of the woman to crossing guards and began a foot search, looking yard by yard for more than 45 minutes before finding her.

Sgt. Frank Lara happened to be walking down the driveway of the

Longcommon Road
home when he heard the woman’s cry for help. Both he and Officer James Lazansky pulled the woman from beneath the trailer, and Lazansky carried her from the backyard.

Later police found footprints in the snow leading west from the woman’s back door through backyards, leading to the area of the trailer.

According to Weitzel, the woman also wandered away from home about 10 days ago. When police found her on that occasion, near St.MarySchool, she was wearing a coat. Weitzel said he believes that this time, the woman crawled under the trailer to seek shelter from the cold.

“The officers’ training and perseverance undoubtedly kept a terrible tragedy from occurring,” Weitzel said.