No quietly driving into sunset, Metro woman, 91, says
Redford Township — Vivian Heap doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
Yes, she is 91 and was missing for 18 hours and mistakenly drove 115 miles until she was helped by a kindly stranger in Pinconning.
But everyone makes mistakes, Heap said, and she'll be damned if she's going to stop driving.
"This is stupid," she said after her children returned her home Thursday from her detour to Bay County. "You'd think I killed someone."
Her son, who wants her to stop driving, became so angry that she kicked him out of the house, she said.
Her daughter took away her car key but Heap said she has another one stashed away in her dresser.
"I got news for her," Heap said. "I'll fight that until the day I die."
Linda Grenier said her mom is headstrong and fiercely independent.
Heap golfed until she was 89 and bowled until she was 90.
"She's not your typical 91-year-old," said Grenier. "She doesn't like old age. She can't do what she's used to."
Mother and daughter said Heap doesn't suffer from any mental infirmities other than normal forgetfulness. Nothing like this has ever happened before, they said.
Around noon Wednesday, Heap was driving to her monthly bridge game five miles from her home in Redford Township.
She said she missed a turn and found herself traveling north on Interstate 75. She realized she was no longer in Metro Detroit when she saw a sign for the Mackinac Bridge.
"I missed the turn, so I went driving, but I didn't think I would drive that far," she said.
She got off the highway near Bay City and stopped for gas Wednesday afternoon, she said.
At the gas station, another motorist noticed her struggling to open her gas cap and came over to help, said the Michigan State Police. The woman learned that Heap was lost and looking for Seven Mile.
Pinconning also has a Seven Mile, so the motorist led Heap there. When Heap didn't recognize the area, the woman allowed her to stay at her home so she could contact her children.
But Heap's cellphone didn't work and she couldn't remember her kids' numbers. She spent the night at the home, talking through the night with her rescuer.
Heap's children had filed a missing person report Thursday at 1 a.m. and, five hours later, police were able to connect them.
"Not many people are so nice," Grenier said about her mom's benefactor, who she and Heap know only as Loretta. "Many stories don't have a nice ending like this."
Heap is a retired office worker for Montgomery Ward who has lived by herself since the passing of her husband in 1992.
She said she drives once or twice a week, and has made solo trips to Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula to visit her niece and ailing sister.
She's scheduled for a car cleaning Saturday and, despite her children's wishes, plans to be there.
"I can drive OK," she said. "I can still do a lot of things."