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Search and Rescue for Manassas Member Has a Happy Ending
Story by Dan Jensen
David Feenor and Ryka of K-9 Alert located in Richmond, Va., share a happy moment outside of the Montebello Fire Department following George Carr’s rescue.
After a being lost on the Appalachian Trail for 20 hours, George Carr, a member of Potomac Conference’s Manassas (Va.) church, is now back at home. Carr got separated from a group of some 20 members of his church who traveled some 150 miles south to Camp Blue Ridge (CBR) in Montebello, Va., for a weekend retreat. The group decided to take a Sabbath afternoon hike on the Appalachian Trail.
At approximately 4 p.m. they reached their destination, took photos and celebrated their arrival at Spy Rock. After 10–15 minutes, small groups of members starting heading back to the cars. However, some members decided to stay longer to enjoy the view.
Unfortunately, Carr somehow got separated from the group. The driver who took Carr up to the trail noticed that he wasn’t in the car going back to camp. When he inquired as the where Carr might be, he was told they thought he had gone back to camp with a different group.
Upon learning that Carr had not come back, Pastor Randy Davis assembled three other people and drove back up the trail to see if they could locate him.
The staff of Camp Blue Ridge was alerted and determined to initiate a search and rescue within 30 minutes if Carr had not been located.
After 45 minutes searching in multiple directions, John Newman, one of the three members of the initial search group, called 911 from Spy Rock to alert the authorities as to the situation. Simultaneously, the staff at CBR was already mobilizing a search and rescue effort.
Prayer groups were immediately assembled, and members of the group started making contact with the immediate family.
The sheriff’s department called in the helicopter well before midnight and teams of search dogs were brought in early Sunday morning.
“I heard the helicopters last night, but I just missed them–I knew they were looking for me so it was only a matter of time,” Carr said. “It got cold, so I kept moving in order to stay warm.”
One of the most amazing stories to come out of this experience took place several miles away. It just so happens the Virginia Search and Rescue (SAR) Counsel was holding its annual meeting in Appomattox, Va. Sharon Johnson, a member of DOGS East, said, “On Saturday evening, we got word that a man was missing and volunteers were being called to join the search. Without hesitation, we voted to end our meeting, packed up and came to Montebello to join in the search. It was actually a wonderful way to segue from our meetings to an actual rescue. This is why we do what we do, and it’s wonderful when it all comes together in the end.”
Nearly 60 members and 10 dogs from the SAR Counsel joined approximately 60 other volunteers from the local community and surrounding counties.
Around noon on Sunday, David Fleenor and his search dog Kyla, both of K-9 Alert of Richmond, found Carr approximately 7 miles from the trail. “I .. was woken up by the sound of men shouting my name, and it was at that moment that a dog came up and started licking me” Carr shared. “The rescuers were right behind the German Shepherd and it was so good to see them. I knew they were coming for me.”
The Manassas church group came together on Sunday morning to feed the volunteers, many who had been out all night on the search. Pastor Davis stood on a chair in the makeshift search and rescue headquarters at the local fire station and shared his appreciation with all those who had gathered to debrief and eat a wonderful dinner put together by volunteers from a local bed and breakfast. “I can’t say enough about the CBR staff and the volunteers who came out to help,” Davis said. “They responded immediately to the situation. It’s evident they’ve had search and rescue training. Words can’t express how grateful we are for all the selfless work that went into this rescue. … The way this community came together for someone they don’t even know says so much about the good that still exists within humanity.”
He then gave a prayer of thanks to God, and asked for a blessing on all those who took part in the search and rescue.
As he reflected on the past 20-hour ordeal, Carr, a tired but grateful man, concluded, “God is awesome. He’s just awesome. As I kept pacing back and forth last night, I just kept repeating the 23rd Psalms. I want to thank all the volunteers who took of their time to search for someone they don’t even know. They were wonderful.”
Some 60 volunteers joined the search and rescue effort.
Attendees at a nearby search and rescue meeting immediately pitched in to help find Manassas member George Carr.
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