Patricia Meehan: That Accident
At around 8:15 PM on April 20, 1989, on Highway 200 near Circle, Montana, Peggy Bueller and her parents were driving to Great Falls, Montana, to visit her sister. Behind them was Carol Heitz, an off-duty police dispatcher. Out of nowhere, a car driving in the opposite direction came onto their side of the road. Peggy swerved out of the way, barely missing a head-on collision with it. Carol pulled off to the side of the road, but it still collided with her. Carol exited her car dazed but not seriously injured. The wrong-way driver also exited her vehicle. She looked at Carol for several seconds but said nothing.
She then walked away. Peggy and her parents went to the accident scene to make sure everyone was alright. Peggy then noticed the woman; she was standing on the other side of a fence a few yards away. According to Peggy, she was looking at the scene as if she was a bystander and not involved.
She then walked into the field and vanished. Within half an hour, police traced the car to its owner, thirty-eight-year-old Patricia Meehan; she was the wrong-way driver. Immediately, police began to search for her; however, they had no idea if she was injured or if she was purposefully hiding from them. Tennis shoe tracks were found in the field near the accident scene that went on for several miles; by 3AM, they disappeared and the search was suspended until the next morning.
It continued for five days, but no trace of her was found. Two theories emerged as to how she eluded her trackers. The first theory was that she had stowed away on a hay truck parked about a half mile from the accident scene. The other theory is that she simply hitchhiked out of the area. Since her disappearance, Patricia has been spotted multiple times throughout the United States. However, she has made no attempt to contact her family or friends. At first, it seemed as though she vanished to avoid prosecution for leaving the scene of an accident. However, eyewitness reports of her increasingly strange behavior suggests to police and psychiatrists that she may be suffering from a rare and dangerous form of amnesia. [Backstory]: Patricia was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but had moved to Oklahoma to attend college and prepare for a career in day care.
She worked in that field until 1985 when she decided to move to Montana to work on a ranch. Before her disappearance, her family and friends had noticed that she had become depressed and withdrawn. Her mother believed that she was looking back at her life and looking at what she accomplished. She believes that Patricia missed having children and that this made her depressed. Psychiatrists believe that she sustained a head injury from the accident and that it combining with her previous problems may have caused her amnesia. Since the accident, Patricia has been spotted at least one-hundred times between Montana and Seattle, mostly at truck stops. However, she has apparently been able to hitchhike out of the areas before her family could find her. Her family became very concerned for her safety and sanity, especially after learning that she had been seen crying on several occasions. One of the confirmed sightings of Patricia occurred in May 1989, in Bozeman, Montana, which is just a few miles from her home. She went to a restaurant and behaved strangely around both the hostess and the waitress that served her.
She told the hostess that she wanted to be sat and served quickly because she had to go shopping. The waitress noticed that she was acting disoriented and spacey, often looking off into space. She also heard her talking to herself. Despite claiming that she was in a hurry, she sat at the table for over an hour. She eventually left after the waitress asked if she was okay. Unfortunately, based on the sightings, it does not appear that Patricia’s condition is improving. If she is not treated soon, then the damage to her mental state could be severe and irreversible.
[Update]: In 2011, police released a composite of a woman found in British Columbia, who “Websleuth” bloggers recognized her as possibly being Patricia. One of the bloggers sent in the tip to the police, but it was later revealed that this was not her. Sadly, Patricia’s parents have since passed away. Patricia was never seen or heard from again.