Monday, June 23, 2008

A successful search shows how hard search is

This is how very hard search can be.

A large group of volunteers spent a week searching for a lost autistic man. He couldn't help his searchers by calling out.

After a week of search the team was about to give up.
'I now believe in miracles,' mother says after autistic son is found

... Two St. Paul firefighters had found Keith Kennedy, severely dehydrated and covered with sores and ticks, lying near a creek in a wooded area roughly a mile west of Trade Lake Camp, said Burnett County Sheriff Dean Roland. The area was being searched for the fourth time when Kennedy was found...

... Kennedy was found by Jim Cotroneo and Gary Ruiz, who were among 16 St. Paul firefighters who joined Sunday's search. They were making one last pass when they spotted Kennedy.

Ruiz said it was nearing 8 p.m. Sunday and his group, part of about 75 firefighters from throughout the Twin Cities area, was about to call it quits. Because so much time had passed since Kennedy's disappearance, they had been treating the operation as a recovery effort rather than a search-and-rescue undertaking, he said.

"We were yelling for the other guys because [the woods were] so thick," he said. "Suddenly we came to a clearing and Jim said, 'He's right here.' I said, 'Who?' and Jim said, 'No, he's right here, the one we're looking for. He's right here.'"

The two looked down to see Kennedy, naked and lying curled in the fetal position. A week's worth of thick stubble darkened his face. Then he moaned. He was alive...

He was found 1 mile from where he disappeared, on the fourth search of the same area. The searchers knew where he'd left from, and had a good idea that he wouldn't move too quickly. It was a very constrained search, and even so it was a hair's breadth from failure.

The article didn't detail Keith's medical state. He went a long time without water. Still, others have survived and we have good reason to hope Keith will too.

Many thanks to those volunteer searchers.

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