A search for a missing woman in her 70s had a happy ending Wednesday evening when an aerial search revealed the woman's whereabouts, and the woman was recovered safely.
After two men in a helicopter saw the woman, a searcher rode an all-terrain vehicle to the woman's location in "rocky, brushy, rough terrain" in the vicinity of the woman's home, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said. Grubbs declined to name the woman, who lives in a rural area south of Brownwood.
The woman left her home on foot around 3:30 p.m., and personnel from the sheriff's office and Brookesmith Volunteer Fire Department began a ground search, Grubbs said.
Because of the approaching darkness, sheriff's officials asked Leak Surveys Inc. president David Furry for help with an aerial search with the helicopter Leak Surveys owns. Furry said he got the call for help around 7 p.m., and it took about 20 minutes for Furry and his pilot, Michael Mayfield of Early, to get in the air.
Mayfield flew a grid based on coordinates provided by sheriff's Capt. Tony Aaron, Furry said. Movement from a dog with the woman attracted Mayfield's attention, and they circled the woman, unable to land in the rough terrain.
Furry contacted a sheriff's sergeant by phone, then saw the ATV nearby, flew near the ATV and motioned to the rider where to go, Furry said.
The woman was about a mile or mile and a half from her home, Furry said. "There wasn't a whole lot to it. It went real smooth," he said. "We were very fortunate."
It was dusk when the two in the helicopter saw the woman, Furry said, and their next step would have been to use infrared equipment to try to find her.
"Bless her heart, I know we scared her to death circling her," Furry said. "She was just standing there. She was standing in one spot."
Grubbs said the woman was dazed when she was found.
The sheriff said he wants to thank everyone who helped search, particularly Furry for allowing his helicopter to be used. "Without their assistance, this could have been a long drawn-out search," Grubbs said. "We really appreciate what they did."
The successful ending "gives everybody involved in the search and good feeling," Grubbs said.
Furry said it's his pilot who deserves credit. He said Mayfield had been in the air for several hours earlier in the day, flying the helicopter in from Mississippi. Mayfield didn't hesitate when told the helicopter was needed for a search, Furry said.