Lewisburg, WV - The State Aviation Division of WV Department of Administration announced today the rescue of an 11-year-old autistic male child who was reported missing in the woods near his home in Greenbrier County.
The State Police Section of the Aviation Division received a request Thursday, April 9, 2009, from the West Virginia State Police in Greenbrier County to assist in the search for the missing child. A normal grid search of the area was made, according to aviation officials. Upon a second segment of the search, the boy, who was wearing three dimensional military camouflage commonly known as Army Combat Uniform, was spotted walking along an old logging road near a fast moving river.
Sgt. Shawn Coleman, a helicopter pilot from the State Police Section of the Aviation Division, and Cpl. Chris Zerkle of the State Police flew the state Bell 407 Helicopter and located the missing child. They coordinated with the State Police officers on the ground unit to direct them to the child. Due to the fast river and swamp conditions, it took approximately one hour for the rescue team to acquire the child. The child was transported to a local hospital to be treated for hypothermia. According to Sgt. Coleman, the temperature the night before the search was 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the remote area, the rugged terrain, and the child's camouflage clothing, the helicopter usage was essential in the search, location and rescue of the child.
The State of West Virginia is one of the 48 states that own and operate state aircraft. Its purpose is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of state government by providing safe, secure, reliable and professional air transportation using both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and assist with police calls throughout the state to include law enforcement agencies at the state, county and local levels.