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Apr 26, 2014 1:26 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Silver Alert law could have saved woman's life

SIERRA VISTA - Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that might have been able to save a Cochise County woman's life.

On November 24, 2013, Mary Black left her home near Saint David. She had Alzheimer's and was not supposed to drive. About a week later, a hunter found her truck west of Picacho Peak. Another week later, Pima County deputies found her body.

Her daughter, Mary Ann Black, believes authorities should have been able to do more to communicate as her mother drove through Cochise, Pima and Pinal Counties.

"I knew in that cold weather, she wouldn't survive," Mary Ann Black said. "She didn't have a coat. We knew she didn't have enough money or anything to survive. So I was horrified."

She was surprised to learn Arizona did not have a "Silver Alert" system, similar to Amber Alerts, for seniors.

"If it's filed and being posted in a timely manner, yes, it would have probably saved her," Black said. "Because she was driving so erratically on the freeway."

Since her mother's death, she has been working with Senator Gail Griffin of Legislative District 14, which covers the southeast corner of the state. Senate Bill 1097 passed both chambers of the legislature without a dissenting vote. Governor Jan Brewer signed it Friday.

"It makes sense. And I wouldn't want anybody else to have to go through what I went through," Black said. "At least that gives us a chance to hopefully catch them before they get too far and we lose them."

The alert would allow the Arizona Department of Public Safety to send messages through the Emergency Alert System. It is limited to seniors over the age of 65 who may be in danger. Local authorities have to exhaust their options before the alert goes statewide.

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