WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — State police and rescue crews in Wyoming County had a lot of concerns as they searched for a man missing overnight into Tuesday morning.
They feared the worst as they looked for the veteran with early stage Alzheimer’s disease but were amazed when they found him sitting along the Susquehanna River waiting for them.
This was a good ambulance trip to the hospital as far as rescuers were concerned. The man inside was alive and in good spirits.
But Ken Lewis, 83, spread a lot of worry when he left his home near Tunkhannock Monday afternoon and never returned.
The search of a wide wooded area went late into the night. Crews were out again in the morning, on the ground, and in the air, but the happy ending came on the water, the Susquehanna River.
“I went to the house to tell the family that he was found and OK and just to see their reaction was priceless,” said State Police Sgt. Andrew Wilk.
The rescuers who found him say they were riding up the river, saw a guy on the bank, he waved back and said “Boy, am I glad to see you.” He told them he spent the night on the riverbank.
“He said, ‘Yep, I’m Kenneth.’ I said, ‘your family’s been looking for you.’ He said, ‘I’m sure they have!'” said Laceyville Goodwill Hose Company Chief Brad Fassett.
The Laceyville Goodwill Hose Company pulled their boat from the river after finding Lewis at the base of a cliff near Mehoopany.
“Just happened to be looking up river to watch for some rocks in the river and happened to spot someone sitting on the shoreline. I pointed and said ‘hey, there’s someone up here sitting.’ Lucky enough, we came up and it was him,” said rescuer Paul Leatso.
“He just asked us if we had any water. He said the river water was starting to look real good,” laughed Fassett. “So, I knew he was in good spirits.”
Lewis told them he got down the cliff and couldn’t get back up but knew just to wait for someone to find him.
At a debriefing after the successful search, the crew that found Lewis told the other rescuers Lewis sure was grateful for their efforts.
“We just wanted to comfort him, it’s a long night to be out there by himself. It was good, these are the kind of endings we like to have,” Fassett added.
State police tell us Lewis was taken to Tyler Memorial Hospital to get some fluids in him, but he should be OK after his night alone along the Susquehanna.