"Gold Alert" law aims to help seniors

July 25, 2008 1:46:25 PM PDT
She was just yards away from her Delaware home, but she might as well have been miles away. An 86-year-old woman spent three days, lying in the weeds, unable to get up, and unable to call for help.

Her survival story has brought attention to a new state law on the books.

"I wasn't afraid. There's nothing to be afraid of," said Ruby Muto.

She may be frail but she is still as strong as she was on August 30th of last year.

That's when rescuers found her in a heavily-weeded area near her Wilmington home.

Muto had been missing for three days. The grandmother of five was discarding garden clippings at the time.

"The earth just seemed to give away right beneath under my feet. I must have gone too far," she said.

"It's exactly like it was last year. A person can be down there and you can't see them," said Muto's son David. He didn't see his mother back then because of all the weeds, but a New Castle County police dog finally did.

Still, Muto had to endure 72-hours in the hot summer sun because she was unable to get to her feet.

"I was just there with the bugs and the bees," she chuckles.

Today, Muto can laugh about her days and nights she was missing, thankful for her Girl Scout survival skills, and an overnight rain.

"A little poison ivy on the tongue isn't too bad, so I found what moisture I could from the leaves," she said.

Ruby doesn't venture to this area alone anymore, but she remains fiercely independent, just like a lot of other senior citizens.

That's why Muto wants the public to know about a new Delaware law called Gold Alert. Much like the Amber Alert program for missing children, public alerts will now be posted immediately for missing seniors.

"Once people became aware that Ruby was missing, law enforcement would have been able to promote the Gold Alert and then someone may have been able to find her in a quicker way," said Rita Landgraf of AARP.

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