Searchers and the community rejoiced when Earl Dunn, 81, was found alive Wednesday about 1:30 p.m.
He went missing from his George Drive home in northwest Hammond Friday about 11 a.m.
Chief Jimmy Travis with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office said Lt. Jacob Schwebel, volunteer Zach Stephens from West Monroe and Stephens’ K9 Ruby found Dunn in the woods about 400 yards behind his home. He was lying on his back in several inches of water.
Travis said Dunn talked as rescuers took him to a nearby medical facility for evaluation.
George Drive is off Giluso Road south of University Drive and north of Lincoln Park subdivision in Hammond. A canal linking Yellow Water and Ponchatoula creeks cuts through that remote wooded area.
“Normally, when an elderly person goes missing for five days, a happy ending is prayed for, however it isn’t always expected,” Travis commented.
Since Friday, dozens of personnel, first responders and volunteers invested hundreds of hours in the search and rescue operations by use of helicopter, drone, ATVs, search and rescue dogs, horses, boats, kayaks and by foot, Travis said.
The sheriff’s office uniform patrol, reserve deputies, detectives, mounted team, and surrounding fire departments searched neighborhoods, combing through the woods, waterways, and surrounding areas throughout the Memorial Day weekend and into this week.
Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office air support conducted aerial searches of the area, and for the past two days, tracking dogs from Louisiana Search and Rescue were also actively searching.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office was in constant contact with Dunn’s family to keep them updated, Travis said.
All the efforts produced negative results until Wednesday.
Travis said emotions ran high when the searchers saw Dunn and discovered he was alive and coherent.
“Our office feels blessed and is grateful for the efforts and support from the following agencies: The Hammond Fire Department, Springfield Fire Department, Natalbany Fire, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, Acadian Ambulance Services, Louisiana State Police, LA S.A.R Search and Rescue, Zach Stephens, and many volunteers,” he said.
“The coordinated efforts between these agencies are truly commendable. This search was truly an all-hands-on deck effort. The cooperation of the workers, volunteers, and family members resulted in a life being saved,” he added. “You can’t ask for anything better.”