Mott farmer listens to his gut, finds missing South Dakota woman

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MOTT, N.D. - “I just had a feeling that’s where she might be,“ said Mott farmer, Brent Roth.

Photo courtesy: Jacki Christman

That "gut feeling" led Roth and Bennie Kruger to a section line road south of Mott where they found a woman who had been missing for nearly four days.

On Tuesday, the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services issued a Silver Alert for 87-year-old Clara Braun of Buffalo, South Dakota. She had last been seen on Monday morning, driving north near Shadehill, South Dakota.

Then someone spotted Braun south of Mott, North Dakota. Law enforcement and volunteers searched from Buffalo, to Shadehill, to Mott. They searched by car, foot and even from the air, but they couldn’t find Braun.

Then, Brent had that "feeling" he couldn’t shake.

“It’s amazing she was found,” said Braun’s granddaughter, Jacki Christman of Hettinger.

Christman still can’t quite believe the events of the past week. On Tuesday morning, her family realized they hadn’t heard from her 87-year-old grandmother since Sunday. After searching a few places and making some calls, they turned to Facebook.

“It exploded. I think it was shared over 2,400 times. We had so many people reaching out,” said Christman.

Among them, Carrie Roth.

“I’ve never met Carrie, she reached out if she could help,” explained Christman.

Thursday morning, Christman texted Carrie a map; she circled where her grandma had last been seen. Carrie quickly shared that map with her husband.

“I looked at the map and knew exactly where it was. I know what’s south of there. It’s nothing. Nobody lives down there. The roads are terrible. I said to Bennie, ‘Let’s go drive over there and check it out.’ We took off and got over there and turned down section line and saw car tracks,” recalls Brent.

Two miles later, they spotted Braun’s car.

“We saw the vehicle and dialed 911. I noticed the window was open, but no one was in it. I saw her on the ground and saw her hands moving so I knew she was conscious,” said Bennie Kruger, who works on the farm with Brent.

“I was pretty nervous. I think my hands were even shaking,” admitted Brent.

“These guys didn’t have to go look. They’re busy and I know how that goes. They took time out of their day,” said a grateful Christman.

Brent and Kruger say what they did was no big deal, and don’t you dare call them heroes.

“I don’t think we’re heroes. I think it’s something that any citizen or person would do or should do. That’s the least we could do,” said Kruger.

“I think we just did an ordinary thing. I don’t think there was anything special about what we did,” added Brent.

But Christman and her family disagree.

“I think it’s a miracle they happened to drive right to her pretty much, find her, call 911. It was all quick thinking. They are definitely heroes in our book,” said Christman

Heroes, doing what they say anyone would do for their neighbors

“We’re just grateful we found her,” said Kruger.

Even if those neighbors are perfect strangers.

Braun is still in the Hettinger hospital. Christman says she should be discharged on Monday. She believes the Silver Alert was crucial in finding her grandmother.

North Dakota is one of 28 states that uses the Silver Alert to broadcast information about missing people, especially senior citizens. South Dakota does not use the Silver Alert. Instead, they issued an Endangered Persons Advisory, which Harding County Sheriff Wyatt Sabo says wasn’t nearly as effective as the Silver Alert. He says that alert was emailed, while the Silver Alert went as a text message and was seen quicker and by more people. Sabo says after seeing how well it worked in this case, he plans to do what he can to bring the Silver Alert to South Dakota.