Shirley Williams aged 73 and suffering from the onset of dementia did not return home after a medical check up at Coober Pedy Hospital on Monday 28th December 2020 onward but was sighted twice on Thursday 31 December 2020.
During that morning Shirley was seen in the Catacomb Road area; at the Kempe Road creek area; and during that afternoon she was seen “walking purposefully west”on the 17 Mile Road, near the corner of Kempe Road (Oodnadatta Road).
Temperatures for those three days was high.
On Friday 1 January, daughter Jillian Williams requested assistance from the police for her missing mother. The Williams family and friends had already begun their own search of the local area, but said there were too few of them searching such a large district.
Saturday morning 2 January the family appealed to the community for help in their search via the Coober Pedy Regional Times FB page. The search involved tracking the mother’s small foot-prints along the side of 17 Mile Road and along a dirt road that led to an area known as Crocodile Harry’s, or the Kenda Flat Opal Field.
The Williams family and close friends set out on Saturday morning to continue their search with local resident Jason Wright who volunteered with his dirt bike and a drone.
Saturday afternoon 2 January saw the arrival of a police initiated search plane at Coober Pedy.
Sunday morning 3 January Police enlisted the support of local Emergency Service crews and followed leads that the family and locals had recommended including Ryan’s Hill, Flat Hill Road, Coober Pedy Area School, Kenda Flat Opal Field, Dead Horse Gully Field and a number of other locations.
Jillian Williams (daughter of Shirley) issued the following statement expressing the family’s gratitude for offers of assistance:
“We would like to thank all of those people who offered to join our search on Saturday and those who have come forward with information.”
“We have a further request and that is, if people are aware of abandoned houses, buildings or sheds, please take the time to have a look. Shirley was in the habit of stopping to look at old memorabilia and might have taken shelter, fallen asleep or had an accident.”
“Also if you could check any old open cuts, dugouts that may be empty or open.”
“Thank you also for your messages of comfort and concern. As soon as we know anything, we will tell you.”
The Williams family told SBS News, that they feared she became confused and set out for an old family home in Andamooka, nearly 500 kilometres from Coober Pedy.
As of the 21 January, Shirley Williams had not been found.
A Police spokesperson told the Coober Pedy Regional Times on Thursday 21 January,“Police hold serious concerns for the welfare of missing woman Shirley Williams. A large scale area search involving emergency services was conducted over several days earlier this month but unfortunately nothing was located.”
“The investigation into her whereabouts remains active and ongoing with Detectives from the Port Augusta CIB conducting enquiries every day, including speaking to interstate policing counterparts and Elders.”
“Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Assistance Line immediately on 131 444.”