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Local man found safe in field
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    A volunteer searcher found a man who had been missing since early Friday morning asleep in a field. Donald Wiggins, 76, was dehydrated and scratched a little from briars, but otherwise, he was in good physical condition, said Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson.
    Wiggins’ son David Wiggins was especially concerned because his father had been suffering some early stage dementia and leukemia. He showed signs of confusion Thursday night, and when family members checked on him Friday morning, they discovered him gone.
    Searchers from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department, Georgia State Patrol, other Bulloch County public safety agencies and friends of the family swept the area for hours Friday. The GSP Aviation unit searched by air, and the Reidsville K-9 unit responded, but did not  pick up on a trail.
    Ellis Wood also helped search the area using his own helicopter.
    Bulloch County firefighters and other public safety workers pumped a small pond behind Wiggins’ house, but found nothing.
    A search resumed Friday morning, and within a few hours, Glen Bailey found Wiggins in a field near a pecan orchard off Westside Road.
    He did not approach Wiggins, who was lying in some bushes. Instead he called sheriff’s deputies, who along with Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson responded to the area and woke Wiggins.
    Anderson said when Wiggins, wearing only a tee shirt and underwear, was told an ambulance was on the way and they would place him on a stretcher to take him to the ambulance, Wiggins asked why and insisted on walking to a truck.
    When he arrived at his house, greeted by relieved family members, Wiggins “asked what all the fuss was about and said he had only been coon hunting,” said daughter-in-law Lori Wiggins.
    Wiggins is an avid coon hunter and due to his confused mental state had believed he was on a hunting trip, she said.
    Bailey, a high school friend of David Wiggins, said it was a little unnerving to find Wiggins. He was riding a four-wheeler through a field and “just came up on him.”
    “I give glory to God for helping me find Mr. Wiggins,” he said. “He just steered me right to him.”
    Wiggins was taken to East Georgia Medical Center, where he remained in an intensive care unit Saturday night for treatment of his dehydration and symptoms of his other illnesses.
    His family was ecstatic over having him found safely.
    “David and I appreciate everything that was done,” Lori Wiggins said. “People don’t know what this means to us....We want to thank all the law enforcement, K-9 units, and everyone who helped to make this the best Christmas anyone has ever given us.”
    The ordeal was harrowing and made everyone stop to think about how important others are in their lives, she said. “Nobody knows what it means when you’re going through a situation like  this. Cherish every moment we have with family and friends.”
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.  
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