AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of Laurel Patterson’s favorite memories with her dad is taking him to Peru seven years ago. Seeing Machu Picchu was on Paull Patterson’s bucket list.
“We found like, just a street festival, and he got in the middle of all the locals and started dancing with people he didn’t even know,” Laurel remembered.
Now with dementia, Laurel said her dad’s light shines even brighter.
“He’s so friendly and kind. I mean, he just wants to give everyone a hug,” she said.
She also worries that’s what makes him vulnerable.
Austin Police said the 76-year-old was last seen around 4 p.m. Sunday. They said he was reported missing early Monday morning.
On Oct. 14, APD said the family is offering a reward for information that leads to his location.
Laurel and her friends have been spending hours every day looking for him since.
“To be honest with you, I’m barely holding it together, obviously, I’m like, on the brink of tears,” she said. “Where are you? Are you OK? Has anyone seen him?”
They’ve posted flyers across town and have been looking in parks and restaurants up to Georgetown, she said.
“Going into places that are open 24 hours a day, so any gas station, you know, H-E-B, McDonald’s, any place… where he might, you know, assuming he’s hungry that he could get food and water,” Laurel explained.
She thinks Paull might be trying to get back to Albuquerque, New Mexico, his home of more than 30 years.
“Being in a neighborhood like this, he gets confused and oftentimes thinks his home is just right around the corner, when in reality, we’re in a completely different state,” Laurel said.
With a cold front expected to move in Friday morning and no confirmed sightings of her dad, her concern is increasing.
“I don’t know what his state is, but I can imagine with dementia out in the elements, he’s probably really confused, really scared and probably you know, feeling the effects at this point,” she said.
Austin Police told KXAN News it is working with the Travis County Search and Rescue Team to continue to search the area where Paull was last seen, but so far, leads have not yielded any results.
It said it is also working with the Albuquerque Police Department.
How did Paull leave a secure facility?
Laurel said she moved her dad into Colonial Gardens Austin in May so she could be closer to him.
“He just couldn’t take care of himself and with a full-time job, I couldn’t keep, you know, 24-hour watch on him and give him the care that he needed,” she said. “And so we really trusted this memory care facility to keep an eye on him.”
She’s upset her dad could leave the facility, and she didn’t find out about it until several hours after it happened.
“He got a seven-hour head start on anyone looking for him. And that’s a long time for him to just be like wandering by himself,” Laurel said.
Colonial Gardens manager Alan Boss told KXAN’s Tahera Rahman he did not want to go on camera but said the facility is working with local and state agencies to find Paull.
Bass said he couldn’t comment on how Paull may have gotten out of this facility, only saying they have visitors and staff who have to enter and exit the building.
We are a secure environment, but we do have visitors and staff who have to enter and exit the building to take care of residents.Alan Bass, Colonial Gardens Austin manager
Tiffany Young, a spokesperson for Texas Health and Human Services, said the agency is conducting an active, on-site investigation into whether the facility violated any health or safety regulations.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of people in the facilities we regulate,” Young wrote in an email to KXAN News. “If we do determine a violation occurred, we will cite the facility and require it to come into full compliance with all regulations.”
APD also said it is still investigating leads into how Paull got out of the facility.
“We moved him into a home because we wanted him to be taken care of and looked after,” Laurel said. “And unfortunately, you know, that’s not the case. And he’s been missing for quite a long time.”
Expanding the search
Laurel is holding a search effort Friday morning for anyone who’d like to help canvass neighborhoods in the search for her father.
They’ll be meeting at the H-E-B off MoPac and Parmer Lane at 9 a.m. There will also be another search party on Saturday.
Laurel said her dad also goes by the nickname “Pepper” and will respond to that.
“If you call out his name, use Pepper as well, because he will answer to one of those,” she explained.
She also said he’s always wearing his black baseball cap.
“He is a very proud veteran of the Coast Guard, so he always wears his veteran hat,” she said.
If you see Paull, you’re asked to call 911 immediately.
Laurel just wants her shining light back home.
“Just doing what I can because I know breaking apart and falling apart right now is not going to help find him,” she said. “Really just like focusing on the positives, which is the amazing people we’re coming across, the hope that he’s still out there and doing okay.”