Hillsborough sheriff's K9 tracks down missing woman with dementia

A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office K9 is being credited with helping to save the life of a woman with dementia after she went missing from her home over the weekend.

The sheriff's office responded to a home in the 11000 block of Bonnet Hole Drive in Thonotosassa around 11 a.m. Sunday after the woman was reported missing.

Investigators said the woman, who was in her late 60s and suffers from dementia, vanished after walking away from her home on Saturday afternoon.

Deputies began searching the area using their aviation units and K9 teams.

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The sheriff's office said Deputy Craig Lariz and his K9 Toby, a bloodhound, were searching a wooded area when they found her about 250 feet away from her home.

Lariz's body camera video showed the moment when they saw her lying in the grass, as the deputy praised the K9 and his keen sense of smell for finding her.

"Good boy, Toby!" the deputy said as he approached the woman.

When he asked if she was OK, she could be heard saying, "Would you please take me down to my house?"

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Lariz and other deputies then carried the woman out of the thick brush and put her in a helicopter, which brought her to nearby Heritage Elementary School where she could be treated by paramedics.

The sheriff's office said the woman was then transported to the hospital for severe dehydration.

"There is nothing worse than the terror someone feels when their loved one goes missing. With the hot temperatures outside and the remote area where this woman had fallen, a very frightening outcome was avoided thanks to the diligent work of our deputies," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.