SPRINGFIELD TWP. It was unusual for 88 year-old Lakemore resident Olga Kurtz not to be home in the evening, especially later in the evening.
After a friend, Shirley Horn, had tried to contact her multiple times, and calling mutual friends to see if they knew where Kurtz was, Horn became concerned and called the Springfield Police Department.
Officers Billie Laurenti and Vance Brothers responded to the call.
At about 10 p.m., Brothers arrived first and after not getting an answer at the door, he began to walk around the outside of the house. When Laurenti arrived, they borrowed a stop ladder from the neighbor so they could look in the windows to see if maybe Kurtz had fallen, but they could not see all of the rooms.
Brothers said they were told by a neighbor that they saw Kurtz leave around 8:30 p.m. but had not seen her come back.
Horn was able to get the garage door code from another friend, Linda Pence. After asking Horn if Kurtz had any children, and learning she had a son in New York, Laurenti used social media and found Kurtz’s son on Facebook. Horn identified him by his picture posted on the site and Laurenti reached out to the Hamburg (N.Y.) Police Department, who went to his home and asked him to call Laurenti. He did and Laurenti asked permission to enter Kurtz’s home, which he gave. Laurenti kept him on the phone in case they found something.
They walked around, "getting mud on the floor," according to Brothers, which, he said, they later tried to clean up. As they looked, they could not find Kurtz in the home. Brothers, however, found a calendar on the table, turned to the date and found that Kurtz was at a sleep study in Green.
Kurtz’s son said his sister normally knows what is on Kurtz’s schedule, especially doctor’s appointments.
"When I heard this whole story it totally amazed me. It made me feel guiltier than heck because I was sleeping while they were looking for me," said Kurtz.
Her friends said they drove to where the sleep study was and found her car and looked inside "just to make sure she was not in there."
Brothers said he was happy that everything was okay. He was worried, not knowing her medical conditions, as to if she wandered off.
Laurenti said that in responding to calls like that, many times, it is not a good situation. They were happy how this call turned out.
Kurtz said this is a case where having the cell phone would have been important.
"The whole evening would have been solved if I had taken my cell phone with me," she said. "Another thing, I had caring friends. I don’t deserve the attention I got. What everybody did was above and beyond."
"If I didn’t have facebook I wouldn’t have found her son. We would have had to call the prosecutor, explain the situation, and get permission to beat the door down. We have had to do that," Laurenti said.
Kurtz said she pays for Life Alert but, it is in the drawer. She joked that it costs her $30 a month to not wear it.
"I keep thinking I should get rid of it," she said.
Kurtz was happy that she has everyone looking out for her and praised the officers. Kurtz, who is an author of four books, took one of her books to Laurenti the following day to show her appreciation.
Horn and Kutz have been friends for more than 40 years due to being coworkers at Anthie's Restaurant on Manchester Road for many years. They now have a a group of about eight people that meet for dinner and do things together, keeping tabs on each other.
Ironically, Kurtz did not realize that anything had even taken place at her house until she came home from the sleep study and found Laurenti’s card on the kitchen door. She called the Police Department and asked what the police were doing at her house.
The response was that nobody could find her.
"Two states were involved in looking for me because I was not home. I was sleeping," said Kurtz.