MSP helicopter team finds elderly woman along rail trail

Published: Oct. 18, 2017 at 5:54 PM EDT
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(10/18/17) - They are the eyes in the sky for the officers on the ground, and this past weekend they likely saved the life of an elderly woman.

Michigan State Police Tactical Flight Officer Nick Olivo said late Saturday night his Aviation Section team was on patrol over the city of Saginaw.

Olivo and the pilot, Sgt. Don Zinz, noticed something they didn't think looked right.

They could see headlights stopped in an area where a car typically isn't found.

"With the naked eye you couldn't see very much, there was just very dim lights with the headlights and taillights of the car. We fly with the aide of night vision goggles so one of the night vision goggles you could see the vehicle, then using the flare camera that's the infared camera that's on the helicopter, you could see the heat from the vehicle," Olivo said.

They saw the car from a couple miles away.

It was stopped along a rail trail, not a road.

The nearest intersection is E. Kochville Road and Melbourne Road in Zilwaukee Township, just across the river from the Crow Island State Game Area.

Olivo and Zinz radioed to deputies on the ground, who then had to walk about a half-mile in to reach the car.

Once they got there they found an 82-year-old Saginaw woman inside.

She had no idea where she was or how she got there.

Saginaw County sheriff deputies said she wasn't able to get out of the car on her own.

They called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for possible mental health issues.

Lieutenant Mike Gomez with the sheriff's office feels the troopers truly did save her life.

"She was in a pretty remote location, and yeah, I don't know when she would have been found by someone using that rail trail, but it could have been hours. It was still a long time until sun up," Olivo said.

Olivo said it's just nice to be part of a situation that doesn't end in an arrest, instead an elderly woman was brought to safety.