RALEIGH, N.C. (NCSHP) — The evening of Tue., Dec. 30 began much like every other night for Trooper E. C. Underwood in Montgomery and Stanly Counties. The recent Highway Patrol graduate was on routine patrol when he overheard a radio message requesting all law enforcement to be on the look out for a missing woman last seen on Christmas Day traveling on U.S. Hwy. 220.
A cell phone number was provided for the missing woman. Law enforcement officials unsuccessfully attempted for several days to locate and make contact via the missing woman’s cell phone.
In a last ditch effort, Underwood called the phone number one last time. To his amazement, the woman answered. Using his training and experience, Trooper Underwood calmly talked to the woman in an attempt to obtain her location. He stated that he was concerned for her safety and offered to meet her.
Being confused and disoriented, the woman could only advise that she last saw an highway sign displaying the number “1”. Underwood believed that the woman was on U.S. Hwy. 1 in Richmond County. Further conversation revealed that the woman had just entered into South Carolina but was quickly convinced by Underwood to turn around and enter back into North Carolina.
He continued her talk to her before finally convincing her to pull into local Waffle House in Rockingham, where he instructed her to hand the cell phone over to restaurant employees. He kindly asked the employees to offer the missing woman a drink and food in an effort to keep her there until he arrived. More importantly, he offered to personally pay for those items as he rushed to her location.
A short time later, Trooper Underwood arrived and was greeted by the tired, yet appreciative woman. Without hesitation, he safely transported the woman back to Randolph County, where family members were eagerly awaiting her return at a nearby rest area.
—contributed by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol