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Woman found after 9 hours

About nine hours after she disappeared, a 25-year-old developmentally disabled woman was found safe Sunday night, miles from where she was living.

Renee Ohl walked away from her home at Childs Avenue and Coffee Street just after noon and was found at 9:10 p.m. at Kibby Road near South Bear Creek Drive. The woman who alerted Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies about the missing woman said Ohl seemed disoriented and told her she was walking to Idaho where her mother lived.

An hour-long helicopter search was conducted in daylight hours and "Katrina," a search dog, was pressed into service to search for Ohl, who deputies say has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, Sgt. Gerard Verderber said. The department's Search and Rescue Team volunteers also were looking for the woman.

The department's new helicopter, piloted by John McKnight and Cmdr. Tom Cavallero, looked for Ohl in open fields in the Weaver area, along the BNSF Railway tracks, Joe Herb Park, Highway 140 and Highway 99.

Verderber said Ohl had run away from home last October and was found shortly afterward at Weaver School.

Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's department spokesman, said Ohl would be medically evaluated before being released to her caretaker. A command post had been established at Weaver School while the search was under way.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger

can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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