A family in Northshore was thankful after their dad who was missing for five days was finally found by search teams.
81-year-old Earl Dunn suffers from dementia and wandered from his home in Hammond this past Friday and went missing. Terrilyn and Earl Dunn Jr. were sleepless as crews searched for their father.
“I had a feeling of helplessness,” Earl Dunn Jr. said.
“We did not have any kind of witnesses that saw him walk into those woods. He disappeared. He was gone,” said Chief Jimmy Travis with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The Tangipahoa Sheriff’s office sent teams from multiple parishes and departments to search for Dunn.
Chief Travis says there were search parties in the air, on the ground, and on the water.
Authorities were focused around Dunn’s home on George Drive in Hammond. Chief Travis said the search perimeter was about 160 acres, filled with thick woods.
They went four days without results and they were really concerned. “If he was in the woods, that’s when my anxiety really kicked in,” his daughter Terrilyn Dunn said.
On Tuesday, one searcher found a pair of jeans in the woods just a few hundred yards from Dunn’s home. “When I saw them, I was like those are Dad’s pants! Inside I was just torn up,” Terrilyn Dunn said.
Soon Earl Dunn was rescued and was on a stretcher. He was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia, but alive.
Five days had passed when the searchers found him and his family believes his career as a logger helped him survive those days with no food and little water.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was praising God, just relieved,” Terrilyn Dunn said.
“He’s a logger, he’s in good shape, and I think that has a lot to do with it. He’s pretty resilient,” Earl Dunn Jr. said.
“He was a strong man. He had will power to live and I think that’s what kept him alive, that and the graces of God,” Chief Travis said.
Chief Travis said they were blessed that this search ended with a survivor story and believes prayers and persistence made the outcome possible.
“The teams never gave up,” Chief Travis said. “They wanted to stay in there, they wanted to find Mr. Dunn.”
“We are grateful to them; we just praise God. We can’t say enough about them,” Terrilyn Dunn said.
The Tangipahoa Sherriff’s office wants this case to be an example for the families of people with dementia. So that they use home cameras and GPS-enabled devices to track them.
Earl Dunn is now safe in a hospital, with his family around him. It is only God who helped and protected him in the woods and guided the rescuers to him.