Feel-Good Friday: A Sanitation Worker Saves the Life of an 82-Year-Old Woman With Dementia

Macario Chism in front of his Waste Pro Truck. (Screenshot credit: KAIT8 News video)

It was one of the coldest days of January in Caruthersville, Missouri when Waste Pro Sanitation worker Macario Chism stopped into a convenience store along his route. It may have been a regular stop for Chism, because the cashier felt inclined to share about a recent Silver Alert. What follows is a big act of heroism that barely received a mention outside of Missouri and Arkansas.


Hence, why it is featured as this week’s Feel-Good Friday story.

From KAIT8 News:

Macario Chism stopped in a convenience story around 7 a.m. when the cashier told him a Silver Alert had been issued for 82-year-old Thelma Bates, who suffers from dementia.

“The cashier was like, ‘Hey, there’s an older woman. She’s missing’,” Chism recalled.

Chism ran out of the store.

Mrs. Bates had been missing since three a.m. It was 16 degrees outside, and she did not have any shoes on. Thelma Bates’ oldest daughter Marian said, “I was worried sick. The whole community came together.”

Chism joined in the search with the other first responders from the cab of his sanitation truck. Fayettevile, Arkansas’ KNWA News reported Chism as saying,

“I gotta find that lady, ‘cause she done froze or she might be dead.”

Chism was within a few blocks of Mrs. Bates’ home, when he spotted something curious about a small metal backyard shop building.

“I see’d the shop door had swung open from the wind, and it had closed, and that’s when I noticed her on the ground in the shop,” Chism said. “She raised up and then she fell back.”


Chism leaped across a ditch and ran through two backyards to reach Mrs. Bates, who was nearly frozen. Chism took off the coat he was wearing, covered her with it, and carried her back to the cab of his truck, where he started the engine, turned on the heater, then covered Mrs. Bates’ feet. Chism’s truck has a dashboard camera, and the footage from the cam shows the moment that he placed Mrs. Bates inside and tended to her. Chism then tapped his horn, signaling to other nearby searchers that he had found her and needed assistance.

He told KAIT8 that when he searched for her, he was thinking of his own late grandmother.

“She died in my arms,” Chism said. “I couldn’t save her so I was just happy to save Mrs. Bates.”

First responders attended to Mrs. Bates, comforting her. They then took her to the hospital where she was examined. Despite the cold and exposure, aside from a few cuts and bruises there was nothing wrong with her. All because of Chism’s determination to find her and his quick response and care when he did.

“He was taking his time, he was paying attention, and he found her and saved her life,” said Barry Gilmore, Code Enforcement officer with the city of Caruthersville. “I couldn’t be prouder of the guy.”


Days later, Chism received a warm reception from the Bates family. He was also rewarded with the Gr8 Acts of Kindness award for his “caring spirit.” The award was sponsored by First Community Banks and KAIT News.

More than a caring spirit, but a rescuer’s one. Chism was determined that Mrs. Bates would not suffer the same fate as his grandmother. He used that tragedy to secure a second chance at life for another elder. The Bates family is understandably forever grateful.

We are grateful for Chism’s example of heroism.

In a world full of Will Smiths, be a Macario Chism.


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