When it comes to finding a missing person, it is always a good idea to have as many resources readily available as possible and North Carolinians are lucky because we have a state agency with four helicopter units across the state ready and willing to lend a hand at a moment's notice.
The aviation units of the N.C. Highway Patrol are stationed in Kinston, Raleigh, Asheville and Salisbury to assist local law enforcement with just about anything that could benefit from a helicopter. That means these crews help find fleeing suspects, locate marijuana grow operations and find missing people, like they did in Middlesex yesterday.
A 76-year-old woman had wandered away from her home Monday night and hadn't been seen since. Rescue volunteers trained to search on horseback were called in while others searched for the woman on foot and used trained K-9s to find her. It wasn't until the helicopter was called in though that the woman was found in a thick patch of briers. The helicopter crew was able to guide ground crews to her and free her from the thick woods. She was taken to Wilson Medical Center, where she is listed in stable condition.
When the helicopter landed, one of the woman's family members hugged the flight crew. One of the pilots said experiences like that gesture make his 13 years of experience flying with the Highway Patrol worthwhile.
"At the end of the day, it is so rewarding to look back at what you did and know that you reunited a family and that they are doing ok," Sgt. Barry Gardner said.