By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
EVERETT — Two weeks later, the family of a missing Everett octogenarian continues to worry while waiting for news of her whereabouts.
Ethel A. O’Neil, 89, vanished July 16 while on an outing.
She’d planned to go shopping at the Everett Mall, just a three-mile drive from her home.
Her family believes O’Neil, who has early signs of dementia, might have become lost. She was last seen in the 6700 block of 88th Place in Marysville, asking for a map and directions back to Everett.
Her disappearance is a mystery to her family.
“What is happening right now is completely out of character,” said Patrick O’Neil, one of her two sons.
There have been no signs of her car: a steel blue 1987 Chevy Nova, Washington license plate ADP6803. The car was built in a joint-venture manufacturing plant in California and included some Toyota Corolla parts.
Her family doesn’t believe the car would have any mechanical problems.
“She kept that car pretty close to immaculate, always in great working order,” Patrick O’Neil said.
Everett police are leading the investigation. They have shared information with several agencies, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said.
The search has taken several forms.
Police have looked for any sign in the county’s densely populated west side. Roughly a dozen Snohomish County Search and Rescue staff and volunteers have been involved. Some have driven the main forest service roads from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass.
A Darrington police sergeant checked along the main roads north of Barlow Pass to White Chuck Mountain, in the Glacier Peak wilderness area.
“They weren’t working from any leads or tips to go in that area, just trying to follow what might be an obvious path of travel for someone in that area,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
The searches have occurred over several days.
“It has been ongoing since her disappearance,” Ireton said.
On Friday, a Washington State Patrol airplane was used to trace a possible route O’Neil might have taken and to look for any signs she could have driven off the road.
The plane, equipped with special search cameras, followed Highway 9, headed east to Granite Falls and flew about 10 miles up the Mountain Loop Highway. Tall trees along the highway made the aerial search challenging.
“Who knows how large the search area could be?” said trooper Ryan Santuff, a pilot with the State Patrol’s aviation unit. “It’s a tough one for law enforcement.”
Other law enforcement agencies that have been assisting in the search include the Port of Seattle, Port Angeles, Tulalip and Lacey police departments as well as the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
All hospitals in the state have been contacted.
“At this time we are working on the few leads we have,” Snell said.
O’Neil’s family fanned out in different directions from Marysville, posting fliers at convenience stores and other spots where people might remember seeing her.
The family also has used social media to reach thousands of people via Twitter and Facebook.
Ethel O’Neil grew up in Port Angeles and has lived in Everett more than a decade, Patrick O’Neil said.
O’Neil is described as 5-foot-6 and about 120 pounds, with blue eyes and white hair.
Anyone who spots her is asked to call 911.
Patrick O’Neil frequently checks to see if there has been any activity on his mother’s bank accounts, figuring that by now she would have used up any cash she had on her at the time. There have been no transactions.
He has described his mother as a gentle, mild-mannered woman who is friendly and outgoing. She has been part of a singing group that visits senior homes.
Patrick O’Neil, 68 and living in Olympia, hasn’t given up.
“There is no rhyme or reason to anything that is going on,” he said. “All we can do is hope.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.