Delaware County Man, 89, Heads Out to Store for Electrical Supplies and Ends Up in Alabama - NBC 10 Philadelphia

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Delaware County Man, 89, Heads Out to Store for Electrical Supplies and Ends Up in Alabama

Officials aren't sure what route the man took, but he would have almost certainly been driving through severe weather

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jody Turbutton left his Boothwyn, Pennsylvania home on Saturday for Walmart. He wanted to pick up a few electrical supplies. But bad weather and a little confusion left him driving, driving and driving some more. He eventually ended up in Alabama. (Published Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016)

    A Delaware County man whose weekend trip to a neighborhood store somehow led to a 900-mile detour to Alabama is safely back with his family, thanks to breakfasting police officers who realized something wasn't right.

    Haleyville, Alabama, Mayor Ken Sunseri said Thursday that 89-year-old Jody Tarbutton, of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, approached the officers at The Galley restaurant on Monday and asked them where he was.

    "They said, 'You're in Alabama, Haleyville, Alabama,'" Sunseri said. "And it sort of stunned him."

    Tarbutton said of the trek "I don't remember it," shaking his head.

    The officers took him to the police station and ran his driver's license, discovering that he had been missing for two days. They contacted authorities, notified his family and got him medical attention.

    "We never, never, never expected to hear the news that he was in Alabama," his daughter Cindy Gatta said by phone Thursday night. She had contacted police in Pennsylvania and posted a plea on Facebook on Sunday in an attempt to locate her father.

    Gatta, of Wilmington, Delaware, flew down to Alabama and reunited with him at a hospital, where he was treated for high blood pressure and dehydration. She said her father has never been clinically diagnosed with dementia and attributed his unexpected road trip to old age and forgetfulness.

    "It's just been amazing that it all turned out so well," Gatta said.

    Officials aren't sure what route Tarbutton took, but he would have almost certainly been driving through severe weather, Sunseri said. Police found a child-size drink and two hamburgers inside Tarbutton's pickup truck.

    People in Haleyville helped Tarbutton's children get from the airport in Birmingham to the hospital, and are now working with the family to have Tarbutton's truck shipped back to his home.

    Sunseri said he was "extremely proud" of the response by the officers and wider community.

    "They were a tremendous help to the family," the mayor said.

    Tarbutton's daughter said she too is grateful to the officers and others, and is calling her father's safe return nothing short of "a Christmas miracle."

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