An elderly Metter man was rescued Thursday after spending two days stranded in the woods.
Willie Carl Byrd, 62, is believed to have suffered a “serious medical condition” after walking into the wooded area and was not reported missing until Wednesday, said Metter police Chief Rob Shore.
Someone reported Byrd missing from his home and told police he had not been seen since Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday morning, a witness told police “Byrd was observed walking in the direction of a wooded area near his residence,” he said. “Based on this information, the Metter Police Department coordinated a search operation … with the Metter Fire & Rescue, Candler County Sheriff’s Office, Candler County EMA, Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Enforcement and the Candler County EMS.”
Also, the Metter Police Department, the Metter Fire & Rescue and the Candler County Sheriff’s Office called in available off-duty personnel to assist in the search, he said.
Public safety officers searched on foot and on all-terrain vehicles, “assisted by citizens who showed up to offer their assistance,” he said. Police were aided by a specialized K-9 unit from the South Carolina K-9 Search Team out of Ridgeland, South Carolina.
When hours passed and Byrd was not found, Candler County EMA coordinated the assistance of a helicopter from the Georgia State Patrol Aviation Unit, Shore said.
“An off-duty Candler County sheriff’s deputy met with the helicopter at the Metter Airport and assisted the helicopter in the search. Within minutes, the helicopter team observed a person matching Mr. Byrd’s description and guided search teams to the area.”
Just a few minutes later, rescuers found Byrd “conscious but extremely weak,” he said. Candler County EMS immediately took him to the Candler County Hospital emergency room for treatment.
“At present time, Mr. Byrd is currently hospitalized and is being treated for the serious medical condition and the effects of being in the wooded area,” Shore said.
He praised the cooperation between agencies.
“This was a very strong example of our local first responders working together with the public to find one of our own,” he said. “I would like to thank all the agencies that participated, especially our K-9 and state partners. Without them, finding Mr. Byrd would have been more difficult.”