MILFORD, Ohio — A Milford school bus driver says she wants to be able to hug a 79-year-old man she found lying on the ground in the cold early Thursday morning.
Washington Cade, who has dementia, went missing Wednesday, but now he’s recovering from exposure in the hospital. And Stacie Dunn is being hailed as a hero.
The bus camera shows Dunn after she found Cade lying at the bottom of a hill on a dead-end street in Milford.
“You need help? ... Are you hurt?” Dunn asked.
It was still dark, around 6:15 a.m.
“I noticed a car in the driveway of a house that is usually empty,” Dunn said. “Just kind of looked around a bit and happened to see a man on the ground waving his hand a little bit.
“Got off the bus and put a coat over him. He said he was cold. I dispatched and asked them to call 911.”
Dunn didn’t know it at the time, but the man she was helping had been missing from his Evendale home since 2 p.m. Wednesday.
“I’m just glad I found him OK,” Dunn said.
Dunn takes the same route every day, but she did do something out of the ordinary Thursday. She brought her winter coat.
“Everyone that knows me knows I never wear a coat. It doesn’t matter if it's 10 degrees, I never wear a coat,” Dunn said. “This morning when I was getting out of my car, I was on the phone with my husband. I was getting my hat and scarf and I said, 'I think I’m going to wear my coat today,' and he said, ‘That’s weird.’
“I said, ‘I know, right?’”
Dunn put her coat on Cade and had a local parent wait with him until help arrived.
“As I’m driving, I just kept saying, ‘Please, God, let him make it until they get there. Please, God, let them be able to find him.’”
Dunn said she almost didn’t see Cade because he was wearing dark clothes.
“That’s a very low-traffic area ... a dead-end street that early in the morning ... in the dark. The next time I would have been by there was an hour and a half later,” she said.
“It could have been so much worse, it could have been. But thank God that it wasn’t,” Dunn said.
“I couldn’t even imagine what his family was going through. Both my grandmothers had dementia and Alzheimer’s, so if they would have went missing I couldn’t have imagined the feeling that they would have had.”
Happy to learn Cade will recover, Dunn now has just one request.
“I just want to hug him, that's what I want. I just want to hug him.”
Cade’s daughter said she is so thankful to everyone who helped look for her father.
"Many thanks to the Evendale, Cincinnati and Miami Township police," Noel Cade Walton said. "They were quick and caring. We are so grateful to them. The Evendale community reached out as well as our Facebook community and church, and many were out searching last night.
"Many thanks to the bus driver who found him and all the news services who ran the story last night. We believe this to be a miracle and just ask for privacy for him while he recovers. Thank you so much."