Missing Persons Week

Urge to take flight: Quoc Tieu is worried her husband Van Tieu who has dementia, will go missing again. Picture: Simon Bennett

Urge to take flight: Quoc Tieu is worried her husband Van Tieu who has dementia, will go missing again. Picture: Simon Bennett

WHEN dementia sufferer Van Tieu boarded a train at Canley Vale this year he did not intend to end up in Melbourne.

But that's how far the 82-year-old travelled.

Mr Tieu had intended to go for a joy ride to the central coast.

He forgot to tell his family where he was going, and was reported missing by his family on February 24 after he failed to return home.

His son Tan said he had held grave concerns for his father's well-being.

"About 5pm, he snuck out of home, went to Canley Vale station on his red scooter and jumped on a train," Tan said.

"When he didn't return home by 7pm, I was worried and rang him.

"He answered and told me he was going on a joy ride to Newcastle and would be home by 9pm. But at 10pm he hadn't returned and was not answering any of my calls."

Initial investigations by Cabramatta police determined Mr Tieu was on a southbound train near Goulburn.

With the help of police from the Hume command, it was determined Mr Tieu had boarded a train at Marulan at 10.50pm.

Staff on an XPT express service found Mr Tieu and notified Victoria Police to meet them on arrival in Melbourne on February 25.

He was returned safely to his family in Sydney later that day.

Tan Tieu said he had to remove the battery from his father's scooter to prevent him from leaving the house on his own in the future.

"Dad said his next mission is to go to Darwin," he said.

National Missing Persons Week, August 3-9 campaign raises awareness about why people go missing and the effects on their friends and family.

This year, the National Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre has teamed up with Alzheimer's Australia to raise awareness of the links between dementia and missing people.

Detective Inspector Darren Newman, the Cabramatta police crime manager, said elderly people, particularly those with dementia, are among the key groups of people at risk of going missing.

"The NSW Police Force has forged a strong relationship with Alzheimer's Australia NSW and seen great success with the Safely Home program, which aims to help locate people with dementia if they become lost," Inspector Newman said.

"Family and carers of people with dementia, particularly those with a tendency for wandering, are urged to contact local police for more information about Safely Home."

For more information visit tinyurl.com/missperweek.

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