Good Samaritans help man with dementia

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- When a 71-year-old man showed up at a Phoenix gas station in the middle of the night, lost, confused and running out of fuel, the gas station attendant stepped up to help him get home.

Dennis Hanaford was diagnosed with dementia last summer. Since then, his wife has only allowed him to drive to the store around the corner and back. This weekend, while his wife was at her second job, Hanaford got in his pickup truck, planning to drive to a store three blocks from his house.

Instead, he missed a turn, got confused and wound up at a gas station close to 30 minutes away. The attendant, Art Grimm, gave him directions back home and sent him on his way. Two hours later, Hanaford was back: his tank was on empty and his ATM card would not work.

The attendant reached into his own pocket and put $20 of gas into Hanaford’s truck and wrote down turn-by-turn directions to help Hanaford get back home. Hanaford would wind up lost again.

Along the way, another Good Samaritan put more gas into his car. At 8:00 in the morning, after an exhausting and confusing night, Hanaford flagged down a police officer who called his wife.

Hanaford’s wife is beyond grateful to the Good Samaritans who helped her husband: “I’m just so glad there’s people out there willing to help other people when they’re in stress,” Tessie Hanaford says.

Grimm, whose mother was recently diagnosed with dementia, remains humble, saying he wishes he would’ve called the police as soon as he realized Hanaford was acting a little strangely. “I think we’re all in it together,” Grimm says. “We’re in one planet, one world… and if we don’t help each other who’s going to?” Hanaford’s wife has now confiscated the car keys. She still has not met Grimm to thank him in person, but she plans on putting a $20 check in the mail to reimburse him for the gas.