Missing Sampson County Man Found Alive


William “Willie” Powell of Garland Found Alive
William “Willie” Powell of Garland Found Alive

After more than 5 days of searching, a missing Sampson County man was located Sunday.

William “Willie” Powell of Garland was reported missing around 1pm on May 26th.  The 72 year-old man, who has dementia and a history of leaving home, was the focus of an intensive search operation in southern Sampson County.

Emergency crews from North Carolina and Virginia had been working around the clock trying to find Powell. He was located around 6pm Sunday on the bank of the South River about a mile west of US701 near Garland.

Powell was alert but dehydrated. He was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for treatment.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Offices said searchers had repetitively covered multiple areas over the past few days because of Powell’s dementina and the possibility he may have been trying to avoid search crews.      

Sheriff Jimmy Thornton and Emergency Management Services Director Ronald Bass said they were appreciative of the support that has been received throughout the search and rescue mission.

Volunteer search and rescue teams throughout North Carolina and some from Virginia assisted. The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the NC Baptist Men’s Disaster Support Team were also instrumental in providing operational support and logistics for the operation.

“This search and rescue mission has been a testament to the willpower of the multiple emergency service and volunteer workers that did not want to give up, Sheriff Thornton said. “I encourage anyone who wishes to make a donation to a worthwhile cause to please give to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the NC Baptist Men’s Association or their local volunteer fire, rescue or EMS organizations. The support of these organizations has been critical to our success in locating Mr. Powell.”

“I know the family is elated and relieved. I would also like to thank everyone who said a prayer or offered support in some way, shape or form. I know the family is appreciative of the love and support they have received through this ordeal as well,” Sheriff Thornton said.