Frantic 14,000km odyssey to NZ
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.’’
‘‘It was such a surprise, such a shock, I’m still trying to unravel what happened [with my father],’’ Deborah Pead said.