Missing Jones County woman found in wooded area - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Missing Jones County woman found in wooded area

After being carried on a make-shift stretcher most of the way by the VFD search team, the missing 22-year old woman emerged from the thick woods in a Yamaha Rhino four wheeler with the exhausted volunteers following behind. After being carried on a make-shift stretcher most of the way by the VFD search team, the missing 22-year old woman emerged from the thick woods in a Yamaha Rhino four wheeler with the exhausted volunteers following behind.
JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -

A Jones County woman, who was reported missing Wednesday night, April 11, was found alive Friday afternoon, April 15, in a thickly underbrush covered wooded area just off Lebanon Road in the Calhoun community a few miles from her home.

The Jones County EMA was asked Friday afternoon to assist the Jones County Sheriff's Department in locating the missing 22-year old who was believed to still be in the Calhoun community.  EMA Deputy Director Marda Tullos notified the Jones County EMA Search and Rescue team and an incident command post was set up just off Lebanon Road near Highway 84 East.  Volunteers from Jones County Volunteer Fire Departments who were members of the EMA Search and Rescue deployed to the Calhoun VFD station until a plan of action could be determined at the search area.

Wayne Black with the Jones County District Attorney's office interviewed the family, friends and neighbors who had been looking for the missing woman.  A neighbor told Black that earlier, he thought he had heard a voice deep in the woods.   The neighbor took Paul Sheffield, MEMA area coordinator and Jones County EMA Search and Rescue director, and Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna to the wooded area. 

According to McKenna the three entered the woods, and after traveling several yards, heard an unidentifiable noise that sounded like it could be a female's voice coming from deeper in the woods.  They marked that point in the woods and continued on down a small trail until they were unable to go any further and marked that point.  After returning to the command post they triangulated the area were the voice was coming from and called in the VFD Search and Rescue teams.

Black briefed the two VFD search teams on the physical description, the description of the clothes she was last seen wearing, and the prior habits and behavior of the cognitively impaired missing woman.  The teams started at different points to crisscross the area and once coming together, were to form a single line and comb the area single file.  Just before the VFD search teams entered the thick woods, Sheffield reported that the woman was answering his calls, but he could not see her or get to her. 

The search teams entered the thick woods and within 20 minutes were also able to obtain voice contact with the young woman.  "As soon as we heard her, we started running toward her voice," exclaimed John Bounds, a member of the VFD search team and Fire Chief of Sandersville VFD. 

Sheffield said the neighbor had described the wooded area as being filled with "brand new briars, moccasins and copperheads that had never seen a human being." Jones County Deputy Bob Shoemake, who was with Sheffield in the woods added, "The briars were so thick that a rabbit would have a hard time getting through them."

The volunteers had to cut their way through the thick briars and underbrush, climb over logs, crawl under fallen trees, and go through knee-deep water to get to her.  Once they reached her, the volunteer medical first responders on the team assessed her condition.  She was dehydrated and her legs and foot were badly cut from the briars that she had been stuck in.

"She had lost her shoe," said Bounds, "and we found a piece of clothing and duct taped it around her foot." But, he said she was having a hard time trying to walk, so they formulated another plan. 

Steve Crawford, from Calhoun VFD, had a rope inside his backpack and, with the help of the others, made a make-shift stretcher with the rope and limbs from a nearby small tree.  The volunteers carried her to a point just inside the wooded area where they had first entered, and a Yamaha Rhino four wheeler was waiting there to carry her out the rest of the way.  

Just over an hour after volunteers had reached her and to the excitement of anxiously awaiting family and friends, the missing 22-year old emerged from the thickly covered and snake infested wooded area after being missing for over 40 hours.  The exhausted volunteers emerged from the woods behind her, breathing heavy, wet, muddy and sweat pouring down their face, but sporting a huge smile. 

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