WASILLA, Alaska — Last week, 83-year-old Joyce Peldo went for a walk she almost didn't survive.
Clad only in a nightgown, a light jacket and slippers, Peldo, who suffers from Alzheimer's syndrome, grabbed her purse and stepped out into a snowstorm that was in its third day.
A later retracing of her tracks in the snow showed she wandered into the woods nearby and fell or lay down more than half a mile from her home, in a spot too far from the road to be easily seen.
The time was shortly after 5 a.m. Phillip Allison was just starting the commute to his job at Hope Community Resources in Anchorage. Allison was in a hurry to get on the road that morning, so he didn't take the time in his driveway to brush off his headlights. But, between the snow and the dark, visibility was poor and he quickly found it necessary to pull off to clear his lights.
As he did, he heard a faint "Help me." He walked down the middle of the road and heard it again, closer. He pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket and shined it into the trees. He saw a hand. Walking about 50 feet from the road, he found Joyce Peldo lying stiffly in the snow.
Allison said Joyce's hands and feet were frozen and she couldn't tell him her name. A former Mat-Su Borough emergency responder, he said she appeared hypothermic. He carried her to his pickup and rushed to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.
Troopers met him at the door and carried her inside. Someone found the name of her son in her purse. When Steve Peldo reached her at the hospital, he said later, his mom was warm and smiling. She asked, "How'd you find me?"
Allison said he didn't think finding Joyce was an accident.
"I felt like I was led to pull over right there, and to even be able to hear her," Allison said, "I'm just grateful she was alive."
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