FEMA Commandeered Ambulance With Woman Afflicted With Alzheimer's Disease - Cannot Now Account For Her

Portion of "Gulf States Struggle to Make Comeback"

CNN News

Aired September 26, 2005

GRACE: Quickly to Daniel Horowitz. He was just telling us about a curfew. It`s entirely legal, right -- Daniel?

DANIEL HOROWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Nancy. Under times of emergency, the government has extraordinary powers and the states and their governors and also even local governments, like mayors, can impose in essence Marshal Law, but they only can do it to the degree necessary. But it really never gets litigated. People know it`s necessary.

GRACE: I`m going to take you to San Antonio. Standing by is Michael Gravett. This is a very important story to us. He is missing his mother, Marlene Joyce Smith, and maybe you can help us reunite them.

Sir, where did you last know your mom was for sure?

MICHAEL GRAVETT, SEARCHING FOR MOTHER: At 1:00, 1:30, Thursday, she was put in an EMS ambulance and taken to the airport in mid-county, in Jefferson County.

GRACE: What happened?

GRAVETT: FEMA had taken over the operations to do a medical evacuation of people like her, and they took over it, and we had already setup for her to be evacuated and had gotten permission for her to go to the hospital in Hemphill, near Center, Texas, Hemphill Hospital. But FEMA stepped in and took over, and have not relayed any information to us about where she is at.

I`ve been desperately trying to get the word out by posting my information on Web sites, by calling my senators, by calling news agencies, trying to see if anyone can locate my mother.

She is bedridden with Alzheimer`s and diabetic, on a feeding tube --

GRACE: Oh, Lord.

GRAVETT: -- so I can`t verify that her medical needs are being met, because she can`t -- no one can tell me where she has been taken.

GRACE: Everybody, take a look at Marlene Joyce Smith. She is 73. Her son, Michael Gravett, went to great extremes to have a plan to evacuate her. She was on an ambulance being evacuated when FEMA -- repeat FEMA -- took over the ambulance, commandeered it, and said they would take over.

She hasn`t been seen since. FEMA, where is she? Marlene Joyce Smith, last at Golden Oaks Nursing Home.

Liz, could you show that picture one more time? Here is the number. 210-481-2780. Can I give out your AOL address?

GRAVETT: Yes, please do.

GRACE: It is SGMGravett@AOL.com. We will keep you updated.

GRAVETT: Thank you.

GRACE: This beautiful lady has Alzheimer`s everyone.

I want to quickly go to another story, to Dana Wales and Bobi McBratney. First of all, I want to go to Bobi McBratney.

Bobi, what happened?


I got a call from Dana last Thursday and she was on the side of Highway 59, near Humble, and she had said that there was a boy on the side of the road that she thought was either dead or in the process of, you know, having respiratory failure.

GRACE: What did she do?

MCBRATNEY: I got all of the information and I called 911 here in California and then they dispatched me through to the Humble Police Department.

GRACE: I want to now go to Dana Wales, a volunteer with NOLA Housing.

Dana, what happened?

DANA WALES, NOLA HOUSING: We were traveling on 59 North. We were trying to leave Houston. It was not working apparently. We had a stop, stand still, and we went to pass two white vans, and as we passed the two white vans, there was a boy, I would say around 15 or 16 years old, possibly disabled and laying there.

They were giving him CPR and it was not working at all. You could only see his stomach rise when they breathed into his mouth.

GRACE: So this handicapped kid was out of the van. It`s my understanding these two white vans were trying to evacuate a bunch of handicapped teenagers, right -- Dana?

WALES: It looked like there were several inside the one behind him and the van that he was traveling in.

GRACE: Right. Was anybody stopping to help them?

WALES: I believe a few cars had stopped prior to us, but the people in charge, the caretakers, said that they had called 911 already and they didn`t necessarily need any physical help from us.

GRACE: Did you see any police cars going by, any ambulances?

WALES: They constantly were going in the HOV lane, the carpool lane, and in the southbound lane, all the time when we were stuck in traffic. I did not at that moment see any pass by, but prior -- 10, 15, 20 minutes prior to that, there were some there.

GRACE: Why wouldn`t anybody stop to help?

WALES: I have no idea. They would have been able to reach us. All the vehicles that were evacuating were very good about moving for ambulances and police officers. They never blocked them. So if one had shown up to help this child, we would have moved.

GRACE: Bobi, did you ever find out what happened to the handicapped boy?

WALES: No. From everything we have heard, they cannot locate. Bobi has called. We`ve heard nothing on the news. You`re the first person that has actually picked it up. You`re the only one that seems to care.

GRACE: We`re trying to find out what happened to this boy. We have reason to believe he died there on the side of the road. This was well over 20 hour evacuation route. All of these kids were crammed into two vans, two air condition, trying to save gas.

Ladies, thank you for being with us.

Very quickly, the Seventh Annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, commemorated Sunday. Vigils and services held across this country to honor murder victims and their families who suffer every day. No moment is unmarred by the hole left in their hearts.