APRIL 20, 2015
Silver alert issued after 3 state manhunt for missing elderly Maryland man; discovered OK after cell phone company, U.S. Air Force unit track mans cell phone signal to Lawrence County … find him in Wayne Co. W.Va.
by WADE QUEEN
A missing elderly Maryland man, who is suffering from dementia, was found safe in Wayne County, West Virginia after authorities on both sides of the Big Sandy river coordinated a search and rescue with help from US Air Force unit.
According to Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency director Mike Woods, the gentleman, identified as Joseph Fitzhugh, who will turn 78 on April 28, was discovered to be in the local area after law enforcement and a wireless cell phone company from Maryland alerted local law enforcement officials shortly before 9 PM Saturday night that Mr Fitzhugh was in the area.
Fitxhugh, who had been reported missing and had not been seen since April 7, had suddenly locked on his cell phone signal and the signal had been traced to Lawrence County, Ky. later determined to be coming specifically from the Patrick Gap Hill area of U.S. 23.
Maryland authorities gave a description of Joseph Fitzhugh as 6 foot, 213 lbs, blue eyes, gray hair, wearing glasses with a tattoo of a Navy Ship on his arm, that he was wearing blue jeans, black sketchers, blue denim shirt and a Miami dolphins jacket. They also gave a description of the vehicle Fitzhugh was driving as a black 2014 Ford F-150 P/U with Maryland plates 6AV6556.
Various Lawrence county entities began immediately their search for Fitzhugh, and put out a BOLO to neighboring counties as well.
After several hours of search, with the help of a local wireless company and with additional help from a US military unit, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), they got in contact with Fitzhugh who stated that he had recently “went through a ‘small town’ and over a bridge in West Virginia and gave a specific description of where he was at.
Lawrence County authorities quickly alerted Wayne County law enforcement of Fitzhugh’s location in Wayne County.
Just after 4:30 AM, Wayne County sheriff’s deputies located Fitzhugh in his vehicle safe and sound.
Among the rather large number of groups involved in the search of Mr Fitzhugh included: Appalachian Cellular – Maryland, Verizon Wireless – Ky, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, Lawrence Co. Search and Rescue, Lawrence County E-911, Lawrence County Sheriffs Department, Louisa Ky., Rough Terrain Rescue Knott County and the AFRCC with the United States Air Force