Deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 emergency call from the Wilbur area of the county on Sunday around 6:18 p.m., requesting assistance in locating a missing person, 78 year old Emery "Bud" Prunty.
Prunty, who is from Petersburg, W.Va., was born in Tyler County and lived for a time in the Wilbur area at his grandparents' home. He suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease, and Sunday he became separated from his wife and son-in-law while searching for his childhood home, he hadn't seen in some 60 years. His family members and local residents searched for Mr. Prunty for 2 hours before calling 911.
Upon receiving the call, deputies from the sheriff's office, along with personnel from the Shirley, Sistersville, Alma, Middlebourne and Doddrige County VFDs responded and organized a search. Also on the scene for the search was the Tyler County Office of Emergency Management and Tyler County SAR K-9 officers.
Wood County Sheriff's Office provided a helicopter to aid in the search and K-9 officers from the WV Division of Juvenile Service also responded to the call, and members of Fairview Church at Wilbur opened the church up as a staging area and command post as well as helping in the search operation.
The search was active until around 11 p.m., when Mr. Prunty appeared out of the woods near the site of his childhood home. He told rescuers he had been near the home for a while but was reluctant to approach it for fear of being injured.
Prunty told searchers he had planned to stay in the woods all night and wait for daylight to go into the house. However, he noticed the various emergency vehicles shining spotlights in an effort to locate him and decided he could make his way out. He was taken to Sistersville General Hospital by the Alma VFD, where he was treated and released. Prunty suffered only minor injuries
At Tuesday morning's meeting of the Tyler County Commission, officials expressed their thoughts regarding the search and rescue effort. "This is a fine example of multiple agencies working together, utilizing their various training and expertise to accomplish a common goal." commented Tyler County Sheriff Earl P. "Bob" Kendle, Jr.
"Kudos to the sheriff's office, OEM and all others who participated in this search and rescue effort," commented Commissioner Charles "Pork" Smith. "We're glad this story had a happy ending."
"Everyone involved worked together very well, probably better than any team I've ever seen," added Tom Cooper, OEM Director.