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Deputies locate missing woman

She left Sunday evening for a stroll, then apparently became disoriented, fell and spent the night outdoors.

Published October 4, 2005

PALM HARBOR - Gladys O'Mara can't go far on her bad knee, but at 80 she considers an evening stroll a form of therapy, her husband said.

Shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, she left the couple's condo on 770 First Court, carrying only a string of rosary beads. She wore a flowered shirt, a shorts-and-skirt combo and sneakers. Her husband expected her back in about 15 minutes.

When she didn't return after half an hour, John O'Mara began to worry and pray.

O'Mara, 81, phoned a neighbor at the Wedgewoods condos. Then their daughter. Then more neighbors. No one had seen her.

"She's just vanished," said O'Mara, a retired engineer.

Neighbors combed the area and followed her normal route: north on West Lake Road, west on Tampa Road, south on U.S. 19. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was called and deputies took up the search, while a helicopter hovered overhead.

"The thing that's puzzling is that she really couldn't go far," O'Mara said of his wife of 57 years.

Turns out, he was right.

About 12:40 p.m. Monday, deputies found O'Mara near a pond about a quarter of a mile from her condo, said sheriff's spokesman Mac McMullen. She had apparently become disoriented during her walk, fell to the ground and spent the night outside.

Aside from a few insect bites, O'Mara was in good health. She was taken to Mease Dunedin Hospital as a precaution, McMullen said. She remained in the emergency room Monday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

[Last modified October 4, 2005, 02:15:30]

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