The state Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring the Washington State Patrol to issue a special alert statewide when mentally impaired older adults go missing.
Senate Bill 5264 would establish a Silver Alert system that would be activated when an adult diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s is reported missing. It is proposed to operate in much the same way as the Amber Alert system.
Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who sponsored the bill, said an article in The Daily Herald about the death of 89-year-old Ethel O’Neil of Lake Stevens inspired her to act.
O’Neil, who was in the early stages of dementia, went missing July 16, 2014 and was found 28 days later in her car off a private road near Lake Stevens. She stopped twice to ask for directions in those 28 days.
“Had we had the Silver Alert system I am convinced that maybe someone might have stopped and asked her a little more about her situation and she’d be alive,” she in her floor speech.
The bill passed on a 47-0 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.