Missing Elderly Couple Found

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

April 22, 2006

Tonight the Pennsylvania couple who had rescue teams across central Virginia searching for them are resting at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Albemarle County Police noticed the couple missing yesterday when their abandoned car was discovered near Shenandoah National Park.

Crews were out searching for the couple early this morning. 83-year-old Bernie Gerald McMorris was found around 10 a.m. and tonight he was finally reunited with his wife.

Rescue teams, K-9 Crews, and volunteers worked together to bring the couple back to safety.

"This operation has just been phenomenal," explained Albemarle County Sheriff Ed Robb. "They've just done a great job and it's [the] most cooperative effort that I've been involved in for a long time."

After nearly 24 hours lost near Shenandoah National Park, 80-year–old Fleta McMorris was found nearly 300 feet from a mountain trial in the Brown’s Cove area in Albemarle County Saturday night.

"We had to put her in a stokes basket and carry her and use ropes and so forth and carry her from the location that she [was] to the helicopter, to pick her up," said Robb.

McMorris and her husband were reportedly walking in the area when somehow they became separated from each other. The search was called when the couple’s car was found abandoned at the intersection of Brown’s Gap Turnpike and Blackwell’s Hollow road around 5 p. m. on Friday.

After learning the car belonged to the missing couple, Albemarle County Police began to search for the two, who have been described as suffering from dementia and various medical problems that could have played a role in the two being lost.

There is still no word on why the couple from the Philadelphia, Penn. area were even near the park, since they have no known relatives or friends nearby.

The couple is said to be doing well at University of Virginia Medical Center. Their son is said to be in Charlottesville tonight, taking care of his parents.

Albemarle County Police spokesperson says, a criminal investigation will continue until they are certain that no foul play was involved.

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