By Richard Babich
Times West Virginian
Two of the three Fairmont residents who reported missing for more than 24 hours are being treated for minor injuries sustained during the ordeal.
Bill Wilkerson, 41, and his son Garrett Wilkerson, 12, and family friend Rohrbough, 42, were reported missing Sunday after they did not return from a fishing trip in Randolph County. They were found Monday afternoon.
Bill and Garrett Wilkerson were listed as being in fair and good conditions, respectively, Tuesday at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Rohrbough refused treatment.
The group went fishing and lost track of time, according to West Virginia State Police Capt. D.P. Reider. They had walked down the mountain in the Cheat Mountain area and downriver without keeping track of time.
Reider said the group spent the night and made a fire to stay warm in the area, which is a large wilderness area with rugged terrain that annually receives twice the average state snowfall.
When the group began to search for their way out of the woods, they discovered their tracks had been covered by the snow. Reider said the group became disoriented and lacked a pattern of movement.
At 10:30 a.m. Monday, members of the Troop 3 Search and Rescue Team along with the West Virginia State Police Aviation located the vehicle of the lost Fairmont residents. Windy conditions and rugged snowy terrain hampered both efforts.
Several volunteers and fire personnel assisted with the ground team, according to Reider, and the rescue effort was a full-scale operation. They began tracking the footprints left by the lost group using a helicopter.
According to a press release from the State Police, at 5:30 p.m. Monday the searchers became the rescuers. The three lost individuals were found within one mile of their vehicle.
The search and rescue team could not reach the stranded group until a Snow Cat-type vehicle was used to transport the individuals to an ambulance.
“We were very lucky,” Reider said. “The men moving around (is what) kept them warm and alive.”
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