Cincinnati officer gives GPS to lost elderly motorist driving to Florida

Cincinnati police officer's act of kindness goes viral
Published: Jan. 8, 2017 at 7:44 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2017 at 4:39 PM EST
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WESTWOOD, OH (FOX19) - A Cincinnati police officer's act of kindness is going viral.

District 3 Officer Virginia Villing gave her own personal $150 GPS navigation system to a lost elderly motorist driving alone from Lynn, Indiana more than 1,000 miles to Venus, Florida.

Shirley McKeown, 71, lost her way off U.S. 27 as she headed south in her little yellow smart car to visit relatives for the holidays.

She wound up on Queen City Avenue and wasn't sure what to do.

Then she spotted Officer Villing conducting a traffic stop. She pulled up and asked for help.

"I thought, gosh, if this is my mom, she needs a little bit more than the maps she had highlighted," Officer Villing said Sunday in an interview at District 3 headquarters in Westwood.

"So I grabbed my GPS and I said 'Shirley, Christmas is going to come a little early for ya.' I showed her how to use this and I sent her own her way. And then I told my husband that night, 'Gosh, I hope this woman gets to Florida OK.'"

McKeown did make it to Florida to spend Christmas with her daughter, son-in-law and two grown grandchildren.

Last week, she mailed Officer Villing a handwritten thank you note - and returned her GPS, even thought the officer insisted that wasn't necessary.

McKeown said Sunday she is thankful to the officer for taking extra special care of her by giving her the navigation device.

"I had never used one before. She was just a sweetheart. I talked to a few other officers there, and they were just as nice as she was. You have a great police department down there," McKeown said.

Officer Villing said she was happy to help and relieved to hear from McKeown.

"I was really worried and I was so thrilled to get her note just to let me know she made it safely," Officer Villing said. "The GPS was hers, and she didn't need to return it because I bought a new one, but I am just so glad she is OK.

"If she's coming from Indiana and she's lost in Ohio, it was going to be a long scary ride for her. So, hey, if it takes a $150 GPS to do it, all the better. That's no problem."

Her supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Seta, said Officer Villing has earned a reputation for always going out of her way to the help the public and her fellow officers during her more than 20 years with police department.

"I think police officers do things to help people everyday. We don't get recognized for it all the time. Once in a while you see something on the news," he said.

"A lot of times it seems to be negative, but they go out there and they want to help people everyday. That's why 99 percent of the people took the job.

"We took the job to come out here to help your family member or help our family member or our friend's family member, whoever we seem to run into out there on their worst days, we are there to help them."

The story went viral Sunday shortly after the local police union president, Sgt. Dan Hils, announced it on "Support the Blue in Cincy" Facebook page.

"This," he wrote, "is your Cincinnati Police Department."

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