Not all missing persons tales end with such a unique, and frankly funny twist as this.
But this one seems to be worth noting.
It was revealed at the Thursday, Sept. 2 meeting of the Burnett County Public Safety Committee that a recent missing person report left many locals scrambling on a search for a missing man, who was, thankfully, found the next day by a Danbury volunteer firefighter.
While the search had a happy ending, it also had a quite interesting, possible even comical middle.
According to the missing person narrative reports from the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began in the early morning hours on Saturday, Aug. 29 at DuFour’s Campground in the Town of Oakland, south of Danbury.
Apparently, several visitors to the campground had been drinking heavily when one of the guests decided to go for a walk. His friends became concerned shortly after midnight when the man did not return to the campground from Friday evening, and storms began to roll into the area.
The concerned parties woke others up at the campground and began to search for the missing man, who was described as being Caucasian, 6-foot tall and about 300-pounds. His vehicle was still at the campsite but he was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and was without a cell phone. He did have his wallet at the time.
The group searched near the campground for several hours, and ultimately figured he found some other camper to sleep in and would return in the morning.
However, as day broke, the missing man was still nowhere to be found, which is when they called the BCSO.
Sheriff’s officials engaged a number of searchers to get involved, while also enlisting other efforts, checking local hospitals, trail cameras near the campground, and even began the process of using the BCSO drone system. They included deputies and local police, summoning in canine officer Croix and his handler, as well as calling in Danbury Fire volunteers and their rescue boat to check the waters. They contacted Burnett County Emergency Management, Siren Fire, the State Patrol and even the Jackson Fire Department was dispatched, as they have sonar capabilities with their rescue boat.
Concern for the missing mans’ safety was great enough that they began to engage other fire department volunteers to assist in an even broader land search, which was just starting to come together.
The search operation was fully activated when a Danbury firefighter was on his way to the incident command when he passed a man walking on State Highway 35 meeting the description.
The man was fine, and told law enforcement of his ordeal, which he said occurred when he got “turned around” and was unaware of which way it was to the campsite. He was walking apparently the wrong way on the Gandy Dancer Trail and ended up in Danbury, where he saw the bright lights of the casino.
The man said he was cold and wet from the storm and decided to just get a hotel room for the night, as he was unable to call his friends. When he woke up, he decided to just walk back to the campsite on Highway 35, which is when the sharp-eyed firefighter saw him.
The missing man was described as thankful and “a bit sheepish” for all the concern and hassle he had caused, but he was thankful for the effort and everyone was relieved that it turned out with a happy, if not slightly amusing, ending.
“We could all use some positive stories,” Burnett County Sheriff Tracy Finch said.
It remains unclear as to whether the man did any gambling at the casino, and if so, whether that was also ‘positive.’