EXCLUSIVE: Sheriff's Posse volunteers speak out after finding missing woman

St. Joseph County, Ind. Members of the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Posse are being hailed as heroes on horseback after finding a missing 91-year-old woman Thursday night.

Nandies Tavenier had last been seen around 2 a.m. Thursday at Dolly's House, the group home where she lives on Ireland Road in Osceola. She apparently wandered from the home some time after that. The 91-year-old suffers from dementia.

St. Joseph County Police were called to the scene around 10 a.m. to search for the missing woman, who'd walked away from the home and gotten lost several times before.

After K9 units, ATVs and an Indiana State Police plane turned up no trace of Tavenier, the Sheriff's Posse was called in to help.

The group of volunteers showed up without hesitation, bringing their own horses and equipment. They quickly got to work methodically weaving through cornfields.

"We'll go in and we'll get 15, 20 feet apart and we'll grid the woods," said Sheriff's Posse member Dwayne Hershberger. "And, we'll go through the woods, walking a straight line and each officer keeps the other officer in his view. That way, we can cover all the area in between the horses."

The posse spent hours scouring the rural area of St. Joseph County, looking for any signs of Tavenier. Police planned to call the search off for the night once the sun went down, but three riders decided to check one last area before calling it quits.

"As I'm riding along, I'm just saying prayers to myself, hoping that we find her, hoping that someone finds her and just riding along, looking for any sign," said Sheriff's Posse member Cody Donlon. "Anything we could find."

The volunteers were in an area off Jackson Road when they discovered a shoe print. It led them nowhere, but Donlon decided to dismount his horse and search between rows of towering corn stalks.

"Heard branches cracking, just kind of made my way through and then all of the sudden I turn around and there she was," he said. "It was a little shock, enjoyment, full range of emotion."

Tavenier was dehydrated and confused, but in good spirits. She told Donlon she was out looking for her dog, who was back at Dolly's House.

He was able to coax her out of the cornfield and stayed by her side until she was taken away in the ambulance.

Tavenier was transported to a St. Joseph County hospital to be checked out, but has since been released.

Sheriff Michael Grzegorek says the Sheriff's Posse was instrumental in tracking the woman down.

"I just can't say enough about these men and women," he said. "They do a fantastic job."

Members of the Sheriff's Posse donate their time and provide their own horses and supplies. While many are calling them heroes after locating Tavenier, they remain humble.

"We went out there and we did our job," said Sheriff's Posse member Jennifer Timm. "We'd do it for a family member, we'd do it for anybody."

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