Peoria PD: Elderly woman dies of apparent heat exhaustion

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(Source: Family of Oralia Parra) (Source: Family of Oralia Parra)
(Source: Family of Oralia Parra) (Source: Family of Oralia Parra)
(Source: Family of Oralia Parra) (Source: Family of Oralia Parra)

An elderly woman with Alzheimer's died Thursday afternoon after she left a care facility in Peoria, police said.

Police received a call around 1:30 p.m. from Immanuel Campus of Care near 99th and Peoria avenues, reporting that two women with Alzheimer's walked out of an unsecured door around 1 p.m., according to the Peoria Police Department. 

Police searched for the two women and within 20 minutes found Oralia Parra, 78, dead in a backyard about a block away from the facility, according to the Peoria Police Department.

Parra died of what appeared to be heat exhaustion, according to the Peoria Police Department. The high in Peoria that day was 112 degrees.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Extreme heat]

"This is where the lady was wandering around, and that's where the body was," neighbor W.C. Kimbler pointed out.  "It was right out in there, past where the shadow is, it was in the sunshine. "

Parra's daughter, Veronica said the facility did not notify her that her mother was missing until two hours after she left the facility. Veronica also said that when the facility did call, they said her mother was fine.

"I went back into her room and I said, 'Where's my mom?' and he said, 'She's dead.' and I said, 'What do you mean, they called me and told me she was fine?'," Veronica said.

"The facility was very negligent as far as notifying me that she was gone for so long," Veronica said.

 Immanuel Campus of Care released the following statement:

"First and most importantly, we are deeply saddened by yesterday's events and offer our prayers and deepest condolences to the families of those affected, as well as to all our residents and their families. 

Because Peoria Police and state authorities have begun their investigations, we believe it important that they be allowed the time necessary to complete their work before releasing any further information."

The second woman was found alive and was taken to a local hospital, police said.

Parra's death remains under investigation. Police were not able to elaborate what kinds of methods the nursing home uses to keep patients from walking away. 

"Wandering is one of the main things that somebody with dementia or Alzheimer's does," explained James Fitzpatrick with the Alzheimer's Association.  

Alzheimers experts say ideally there should be several layers of security. Wearable devices that sound alarms and initiate locks are often used at long-term care facilities. 

"You want individuals to be able to roam and have some resemblance of freedom," said Fitzpatrick. "But we also want to ensure that they have safety."

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