Friday morning just as the search was resuming, a Warren County deputy spotted a man who had been missing near Fountain Campground.
“Yes!” exclaimed Warren County Fire Chief Crystal Duckett around 9 a.m. as Deputy Curt Norman radioed that he had found the missing man. The deputy had found the man walking on Steadman Road approximately a mile from where he had last been seen the day before.
“It’s a great feeling that it was a successful search and he was in as good of shape as he was in under the conditions,” said Duckett, who not only is the county fire chief, but also Warren County EMS director and Warren County EMA director.
The 55-year-old Columbia County man with a prosthetic leg and travelling on crutches had been lost in the woods Thursday as heavy rains drenched the area and was still missing overnight as winds picked up and temperatures dropped. Duckett said she could not release the man’s name.
He and another man had been stranded in the woods since tuesday when their car became stuck on Indian Hill Road. The car was stuck about three miles down the road, off Highway 80.
“We got the phone call late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, probably about 6:30, that we had two gentlemen that had gone into the woods, in a vehicle, going back in there to look for some arrowheads,” she said. “One of them had gotten out of the vehicle yesterday morning and had got lost in the woods. By the time we knew anything, he had been lost for about 10 hours.”
The search teams found the car Tuesday evening and rescued one man.
“He was still in the car. We were able to get to him fairly quickly. We had him located and safe by about 8:30 last night,” she said Friday morning after the search wrapped up.
Duckett said the missing man’s phone was not working and family last had heard from him Wednesday evening.
“They had actually been in the woods since Tuesday, spent two nights in the woods, two nights in the car, and then he got out yesterday morning and started walking,” Duckett said Friday morning, following completion of the search.
The night before, searchers had stayed out looking for the man until almost 1 a.m.
“We searched as much as we could safely and didnt find any signs of anything last night,” she said on Friday. “All the rain we had pretty much washed out anything we had to go off of.”
The chief said attempts were made to get a helicopter and dogs out to aid in the search Thursday night but weather conditions prevented the use of either of those options. The searchers gathered again Friday morning to continue looking for the man.
“We were hoping for the best and hoping that he found some shelter,” she said.
After the missing man was located Friday, he was seeming upbeat as he exited the deputy’s Ford Explorer. As he was greeted by a crowd of deputies and first responders, he mentioned that he was a hunter.
“The best I understand is he is a hunter, fisher, and used to being in the woods,” the chief said.
The Warren County Fire Department, Warren County First Responders, Warren County EMS, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office participated in the search. Duckett said if the search had continued, the Georgia State Patrol had offered to send a helicopter for assistance.