Reporting Stephanie Lucero
CARROLLTON (CBSDFW.COM) - A grandfather and his two grandchildren from Carrollton should be reunited with family members later on Wednesday. The three North Texas residents have been missing since Sunday afternoon, and police said that they appear to have traveled through at least six states.
Authorities tracked the whereabouts of 57-year-old William Gomez by following activity on his debit card and checking surveillance cameras at stores where he had been. He purchased meals along the road trip and new underwear for the kids at a Sears store in Kentucky. The trio remained in their vehicle most of the time, sleeping there for brief periods before continuing to travel north.
Gomez was supposed to be bringing his 7-year-old grandson Marcus and 8-year-old granddaughter Dominique to the park on Sunday. That park is just down the street from the Gomez home. But family members said that the grandfather has occasional memory lapses due to his encephalitis, and he probably got confused along the way. Police said that they do not believe this was a case of foul play.
According to police, bank account transactions show that Gomez and the two grandchildren were on a two-day ride heading north through several states — Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Gomez eventually flagged down a Washington County sheriff’s deputy in Wisconsin and asked for help getting to Texas.
“My mother-in-law came crying that they found them,” said Maria Gomez, the missing man’s wife. “It is wonderful to know he has stopped and he’s okay and the kids are okay.”
Family members in Carrollton are heading to Wisconsin around noon on Wednesday to pick up Gomez and the two kids. They are expected to arrive in Milwaukee at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
Jose Gomez is the father of the two children, and said that he cannot wait to hug them again. “I want to know if they are okay,” he stated. “I mean, in their soul, in their spirit. Then, I’m going to tell them I love them to death. I’ll be happy to get them back and get back to normal life like we normally do.”
The two children are now in the care of Wisconsin authorities. They are both fine, and seemed to be unfazed by this entire ordeal, officials said. Meanwhile, doctors are evaluating William Gomez at a Wisconsin hospital. According to his wife, Gomez had been without medication for three days, and that may have caused him to feel lost or disoriented, despite trying to return home. That medicine absords extra fluid in his brain.
“I think his driving days are over,” said Maria Gomez. “We can’t go through this again. It’s so awful.”
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