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Two missing women are found stranded but safe

Two Buffalo grandmothers who went missing while driving toward Central New York were found safe and sound Sunday night, Buffalo police reported.

Ernestine Mallory, 87, of Woltz Avenue, and her niece, Joe Ann Smith, 54, of Beck Street, left Buffalo at about 7 a.m. Saturday to visit a relative in Auburn Correctional Facility.

Lt. Steven Nichols said police became worried when the women failed to contact their family and were also concerned for their safety because Smith, the driver, was recently diagnosed with an illness and Mallory has Parkinson's disease. Both women are on medication and had no cell phone.

At about 7:50 p.m. Sunday, the woman were located in Herkimer, where a tow truck driver found their car on the side of the Thruway and took them to a local hotel.

The news came just moments after a news conference at Ferry-Fillmore Police District, where police officers were asking the media's assistance to help find the women.

"I'm so grateful she's safe and sound," said Smith's daughter, Felicia Mills, a stream of tears flowing down her face as she and about 10 family members were celebrating the women being found.

Police said the women arrived at Auburn Correctional Facility on Saturday, only to be told their relative was being held instead in Groveland Correctional Facility, south of Rochester, so they tried to drive there.

Saturday evening, her concerned family members called Buffalo police, who filed a missing persons report and alerted officers to look for Smith's car and gave the license plate. They also alerted state troopers and Auburn police.

The women had not been heard from since 6 a.m. Sunday, when they called a family member, reporting that they were stranded and had no money and no gas.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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