Fran­tic 14,000km odyssey to NZ

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - STUFF RE­PORTER

Deb­o­rah Pead was fran­tic af­ter an early morn­ing phone call from New York say­ing her el­derly fa­ther was miss­ing.

Derek Pead, 78, had be­come a self­im­posed recluse who had de­vel­oped early stage de­men­tia and was liv­ing in New York.

Auck­land pub­lic re­la­tions guru Deb­o­rah Pead had not heard from him in eight years. Then early yes­ter­day the phone rang and she was told her fa­ther had dis­ap­peared from his care home and United States po­lice were look­ing for him.

Just min­utes later the phone went again. It was Auck­land Air­port, say­ing her fa­ther had landed and could she come pick him up.

Un­der­stand­ably, Pead was as­tounded. Her fa­ther had just walked out of his care home and flown 14,000km in clothes suited for a New York win­ter, clutch­ing a pa­per­back book, his US pass­port and noth­ing much else

‘‘When they said he had gone miss­ing it was just a whole new thing to worry about – it was one of the few times in my life where I didn’t have the an­swers on what to do.

‘‘Then the next thing I got a phone call from Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port ask­ing me ‘do you know a Derek John Pead, he’s here at pas­sen­ger ser­vices’.

‘‘It was such a sur­prise, such a shock, I’m still try­ing to un­ravel what hap­pened,’’ she said.

Derek Pead’s only fam­ily in New York, his wife, Deb­o­rah Pead’s step­mother, had died re­cently.

Pead has tried to un­ravel ex­actly what hap­pened with her US ci­ti­zen fa­ther who said he flew on Delta, Vir­gin and Air New Zealand ser­vices to get to New Zealand.

Derek Pead told his daugh­ter he was de­tained at Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­cause he tried to board a flight with­out a ticket.

‘‘I can imag­ine it caused a lot of is­sues, he said a lot of po­lice­men in­ter­ro­gated him.’’

Even­tu­ally her fa­ther did buy a ticket jet­ting to New Zealand.

Pead col­lected her dad from Auck­land Air­port and he is with her.

‘‘I have no doubt once he be­comes a lit­tle more set­tled and less con­fused we’ll be able to un­ravel the se­quence.

‘‘He’s got big gaps in his mem­ory, he’s still very jet lagged and quite con­fused.’’

Pead and her hus­band have made her dad wel­come at their Kaipara farm north of Auck­land.

‘‘We’ll take each day one day at a time now and see where to from here’’.

Pead posted her story on Facebook. Re­flect­ing on the or­deal, Pead said she ‘‘didn’t in­tend’’ for her ini­tial Facebook post about her fa­ther’s ‘‘re­mark­able story about his sin­gle-minded de­ter­mi­na­tion to get here’’ to go pub­lic.

‘‘I think a lot of peo­ple are deal­ing with par­ents and el­derly peo­ple with de­men­tia – a lot of peo­ple con­nected with the story.’’

PHOTO: STEVE DYKES

‘‘It was such a sur­prise, such a shock, I’m still try­ing to un­ravel what hap­pened [with my fa­ther],’’ Deb­o­rah Pead said.

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