Local News

Missing Sampson County man found alive

Posted May 31, 2015

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— A missing 72-year-old Sampson County man who was the subject of a statewide Silver Alert was found safe Sunday afternoon.

William Earl Powell, of Garland, was found on the bank of the South River about a mile west of U.S. Highway 701, just south of Garland, the Sampson County Sheriff's Office said.

"Mr. Powell was alert, however he was dehydrated," the department said in a statement.

Powell was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

Search dogs came across Powell's shoes and pants before discovering him, said his daughter, Melindy Powell.

”We were really getting scared," she said. "It was day six and they were about to give up on the search, as far as the search goes. And there at the last minute, they found him and we were all happy.”

Due to William Powell's dementia and possibly trying to avoid search crews, authorities said they searched the same areas around Garland multiple times since he went missing May 26.

"I am thankful to everyone who helped out in the search for Mr. Powell and I’m extremely thankful for the blessing of being able to locate him," Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said in a statement. "This operation has involved hundreds of workers, which required a unified command system of multiple disciplines throughout the event.Everyone worked well together and their cross training made everything very fluid."

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