Palos Park police officer Ross Chibe explains what happened the night two confused elderly women from South Carolina found their way to town. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park police officer Ross Chibe explains what happened the night two confused elderly women from South Carolina found their way to town. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park cop honored for helping elderly South Carolina women

By Jeff Vorva

Right place.

Right time.

In a story full of what-if scenarios, Palos Park police officer Ross Chibe found himself in an unusual situation on July 26 in the early-morning hours and last Monday he was lauded at the Village of Palos Park council meeting for his actions.

It was a happy ending to a “what-if” situation if two women found themselves in another scenario.

According to Chibe, he pulled over a car that was driving too slow.

“At first, I thought it was an impaired driver driving slowly,” he said. “They were two elderly ladies from South Carolina who were apparently on the road for several days.

“They were not sure where they were going or where they were coming from. So, I wanted to make sure everything was OK and we had the paramedics come out and check them out.”

The two were taken to a nearby hospital and their families were contacted and they are all doing well, according to Chibe.

While that story seems routine, those at Monday’s meeting insist Chibe’s role was huge.

The women had dementia and before she presented Chibe with an award, Dementia Educator and Care Consultant of the Dementia Society of America Jeannine Forrest explained why his action was vital.

“Why is this such a significant story?” she asked. “Incidents like this happen much more frequently than people realize. It happens about 198,000 times a year. Between 20 percent and 35 percent of these individuals who leave their home area are found dead or never found.”

The 12-year veteran of Chief Joe Miller’s force, who started as a cadet, was also lauded by Police Commissioner Dan Polk.

“We can only imagine our family or loved one in that situation,” Polk said to Chibe. “I can imagine on a busy night in some other location they [police] would have higher priorities.

“But you saved some people’s lives. I appreciate that. And I appreciate what you and the rest of the team do for the Village of Palos Park.”

Mayor John Mahoney added that Chibe’s actions were just another example of the dedication of the Palos Park police.

“You don’t treat this like a job, you treat it like a calling,” Mahoney said. “There is a big difference. The way you approached this situation is the way you approach all situations.

“Our police department is what it is because of efforts like this. I’m very thankful to have the staff we have, and it keeps me doing this job for as many years as I have.’’

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