Missing Wadesboro woman rescued in rural N.Y.

Imari Scarbrough Staff Writer

September 27, 2013

New York officials say a Wadesboro woman’s dogs helped with her rescue when she was lost in the woods in New York last Monday.

Stacia Ward-Johnson, 75, was reported missing by friends in the Brantingham area of New York. When the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department learned that Ward-Johnson owns vacation camps off of Salsburg Road, deputies, a K-9 unit and New York State Forest rangers searched the area.

Lewis County Undersheriff Jim Monnat said that a forest ranger and a deputy found Ward-Johnson’s Jeep stuck in the mud and continued past it toward the camp that they thought she might have been heading for. When the ranger heard dogs barking and the two investigated, they found two small dogs with Ward-Johnson. The deputy and the ranger carried her to the nearest access road, where she was put into the ranger’s vehicle to meet an ambulance on the highway. The ambulance transported her to the fire department in Glenfield, N.Y., and from there she was flown to a hospital in Utica, N.Y., Monnat said.

Monnat said that Ward-Johnson left her Jeep after it got stuck and fell while walking in the woods. “She may have separated her shoulder, had an ankle injury and an injury to her left eye, and a bit of hypothermia,” he said. “She had been in the woods since at least 7 or 8 p.m. the prior night, and had been in there 16 hours or so overnight. It was about 12:30 p.m. when we found her.”

Monnat said a partnership helped expedite the rescue. “I think the cooperation between the New York State Forest Rangers and the Lewis County Sheriff’s office led to finding her in a timely manner.”

Even still, Monnat said that the dogs were the real heroes. “The dogs are the ones that saved her,” he said. “If they hadn’t started barking it probably would have been an extended time before we located her.”

As of Friday, Ward-Johnson had been moved from ICU to a regular room.