Authorities report that Donald Pierson appeared to be well and was transported to an area hospital for an evaluation. Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey says that Pierson was found at approximately 10:40 a.m. at the wolf habitat, after he followed a trail out of the woods.
According to Kingsport police, Pierson apparently became disoriented on Wednesday evening. He had left a party he was with in the animal habitat, intending to walk back to a vehicle in the parking lot. Instead, he wandered "a significant distance in the opposite direction."
"He spent the night in the woods, but by daybreak had managed to find his way back to the general area of the animal habitat," said KPD Public Information Officer Tom Patton. "He reported having seen the helicopter and flashlights of the search party during the night, but they were just out of reach."
Authorities had considered Pierson, a type 2 diabetic, to be endangered. Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, a five-hour grid search was conducted by approximately 40 rescue personnel. After breaking for a few hours they reconvened at 9 a.m. and started again, with a Bays Mountain Naturalist later spotting Pierson at the wolf habitat.
Patton says Pierson's transport to the hospital was purely precautionary, considering his age and medical history.
Aiding in the rescue efforts were Search and Rescue Teams from the KPD, KFD, Sullivan County EMS and the Kingsport Life Saving Crew. Overnight, a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter had also assisted from the air.
UPDATE -- 10:45 a.m.: The Kingsport Fire Department reports that Donald C. Pierson has been found on Bays Mountain.
Details are currently being gathered, but he is reportedly going to be medically evaluated. Check back with TimesNews.net for more information as it becomes available.
KINGSPORT — Following overnight efforts that lasted into early Thursday morning, emergency personnel hope daylight hours will yield better results in their search for a missing man on Bays Mountain.
At 9 a.m. rescuers reconvened at the park's cabin. Police say Donald C. Pierson, 67, is a type 2 diabetic and possibly endangered. He had been visiting the park with other people on Wednesday evening, leaving his party in the animal habitats to walk back to a car. He has not been seen since.
Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey says the overnight grid search included 40 rescue personnel, lasted more than five hours, and covered approximately a square mile around the parking lot. Thursday morning efforts were to begin in that same area and expand as necessary.
Brickey added that there is also a possibility that Pierson got a ride with someone and departed Bays Mountain in a vehicle.
Pierson is 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 250 pounds and has diabetes. He was last seen wearing jeans, a dark-colored T-shirt, a blue ball cap and brown shoes.
Anyone who sees him or knows his current whereabouts is asked to contact the Kingsport Police Department immediately at (423) 246-9111.
Taking part in the efforts are search and rescue teams from the KPD, KFD, Sullivan County EMS and the Kingsport Life Saving Crew. Overnight, a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter had assisted.