Thanks to an all-out effort by local law enforcement, emergency responders and the U.S. Coast Guard, two men who got lost in a swampy area of southern Pasquotank County Thursday night were eventually able to find their way home.
The Pasquotank-Camden 911 Center received a call from one of the men’s relatives about 5:15 p.m. that he had gone walking in a swampy area near Frog Island Marina Thursday afternoon but had not returned by dark.
When law enforcement and first responders gathered to begin their search, they quickly learned there were in fact two men who were missing, Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Parnell said.
“They had been out walking in a swampy area and got turned around and split up,” Parnell said.
He said some 20 to 25 personnel from six local agencies began searching for the men, one of whom was in his 50s, the other in his 60s. The search was made difficult, however, because of the swampy terrain and the darkness. Parnell said the ground was too soft to support vehicles.
“That’s why we wanted to get the Coast Guard involved,” Parnell said. “They have that FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system that picks up heat signatures on the ground.”
Helping rescuers home in on the men’s location was the cellphone one of the men had. Parnell said the man stayed in contact with a 911 dispatcher throughout the search.
One of the missing men was finally able to make his way to the command post where searchers were stationed. The second man couldn’t make it out, however.
According to Parnell, a Coast Guard helicopter was able to locate the second man and lower a rescue swimmer and basket to his location. The helicopter then transported the second man to the Frog Island Marina where he was transferred to an emergency medical services ambulance and taken to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center.
“He was in good condition,” Parnell said. “They just took him to the hospital to get him a good check-over.”
Parnell said it was about 7:45 p.m. when the Coast Guard picked the second man up from the swamp. He said the entire search lasted about 2½ hours.
Parnell credited personnel from the Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office, Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services, Weeksville Volunteer Fire Department, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard for turning what could have been a tragedy into a successful rescue operation.
“Thanks to the hard work and effort of all these agencies, both of these men were able to go home Thursday night,” he said.