ARVADA - A 19-year-old sleepwalker who disappeared from her home in Arvada early Tuesday morning has been found safe -- 9 miles away.
Investigators think Taylor Gammel walked most of the distance -- and may have also taken a bus -- all in her sleep! She ended up at her uncle's house in Westminster, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
Gammel left her house in north Jefferson County early Tuesday morning, investigators said.
Her father Steve Gammel, when he noticed her missing, immediately notified police. He told officers that this was not the first time she has sleepwalked and he was concerned for her safety.
"She just starts walking," Steve Gammel told 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen, "And I don’t think she knows where she’s going or what she’s going which makes it even scarier."
For roughly two hours, more than 20 Arvada officers and Jefferson County deputies searched for the girl. An eyewitness reported seeing her at a nearby bus stop. A bloodhound brought out by deputies also tracked Gammel to a 7-Eleven that has a bus stop nearby.
"That's where the bloodhound lost the track, so we think there's a distinct possibility that she got on that bus," said Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Techmeyer.
Around 9 a.m. the teen, who was wearing sweatpants, a shirt and just socks, woke up and realized she was in Westminster, police said.
"Generally when you think of a sleepwalking episode, they're going to be minutes in duration. Up to 45 minutes is generally what's reported. That it's greater than an hour is what makes this so unusual," Dr. Sheila Tsai of National Jewish Research Hospital said.
Dr. Tsai says this case is extremely unusual but it is possible. Four to five percent of the adult population sleepwalks.
"Big culprits would be sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol use, medication. So there are certain medications, one of the more popular that we hear about in the press is Ambien," she added.
Sheriffs would not say if any medication was involved in the Tuesday incident, instead they focused on the fact that the teen was found safe.
"We're just relieved," said Steve Gammel. "I guess the biggest thing for us is knowing that we’re not alone, hearing other stories and everyone talking about how they have kids that sleepwalk, as well. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone."