Elderly Veteran Falls In Woods Only To Be Found 4 Days Later
People fall in the woods all of the time. Often, people are in groups, ensuring that if one person falls, the help that they need is right there. This isn’t always the case. There are also plenty of stories where a person falls when they’re alone only to experience tragedy.
Harold Roberts, a 79-year-old veteran, took to a Tonawanda, New York bike path a while back. He passed a few people and waved, showing that he was in good spirits. Edward Kirbis, a passerby, felt as though something might be wrong when he passed the man. However, he assured himself that all was good when he saw Roberts wave at another passerby.
It wasn’t until later that Kirbis realized that there was something wrong. News broke later that same day that the elderly man, Roberts, was missing. That’s when Kirbis knew he had to step up and identify that he had seen the man not too long ago.
Roberts had been lost in the woods. In fact, he had been lost for a total of four days. Shortly after passing Kirbis, he had fallen, making it that much harder to reach out and get the help that he needed.
Roberts was a former Air Force pilot who had left his suburban Buffalo home. When he had fallen, he was unable to get up and get the help that he needed.
Kirbis called the police and told them everything that he had known to be true. He met up with Darren Hearitt, a local police detective. Hearitt, also a veteran, was looking for Roberts throughout the wooded area. They were able to locate Roberts, who was a bit dehydrated but was still in good spirits about the whole ordeal.
Kirbis was shocked that Hearitt had actually noticed him. Hearitt, however, was a spotter in the Marine Corps. It made it that much easier to be able to find the elderly veteran so that he could get the help that he needed. Hearitt said his heart skipped a beat when he finally recovered the man.
Kirbis said that it was a miracle that Roberts was okay. Four days and five hours after he had seen him on the trail, the man was found. When asked about how he managed to care for himself in this wooded area of New York, Roberts said that he relied heavily on his military training all of those years ago. He said that the military survival training that he once received proved to be invaluable. He didn’t even remember that he had all of that training but his instincts kicked in to ensure that he was taken care of until found.
Hearitt doesn’t want to take any credit for finding the veteran. He said that it was Roberts’ perseverance that saved his own life. However, the two humble men that made it possible to locate the wandering, wounded veteran ensured that survival skills could be kept to a minimum.
The military branches have always taught men and women how to survive. Many trainings are provided each and every year, bringing soldiers out to the woods to show them what needs to be done if they’re ever gunned down, their helicopter crashes or they find themselves apart from their unit for an extended period of time.
Not everyone has natural survival instincts. It’s why they’re taught. After spending four days away from civilization, most people would either die from hunger, dehydration, or wounds that were sustained from being outside for as long as they were.
Although Tonawanda isn’t considered the most heavily wooded area, it can be enough for a person to get lost, especially if they are wounded in the process. It is lucky for everyone involved that Roberts did have the military training that he did so that he was able to survive. Others would not have been that lucky – and so the story has a happy ending because he had the survival training from many years ago when he was an enlisted member of the military.
Roberts is likely thankful that he’s a veteran. It wasn’t clear as to whether he has family members who will be looking after him. However, now that he’s proven that he can survive in the woods for several days, he’s likely shown to his family and to the community that he’s tougher than most.
It is a good thing that Kirbis had seen the veteran out there that day to ensure that Roberts was finally located when he was.