MOUNT VERNON — The sharp eyes of a helicopter pilot and his observer, along with the help of infrared technology, located a woman who wandered from her home on Hopewell Road on Wednesday afternoon.
Betty Jessup, who will be 82 on Friday, was found wet, cold and dirty, but otherwise in good condition after wandering for three hours in the rainy, 44-degree cold.
Jessup was staying at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Kevin and Sheri Moore, at 19021 Hopewell Road. Another daughter, Jodi Zolman, said her mother suffers from dementia. Jessup apparently left the house and wandered away.
It was about 2 p.m. that the Moores discovered Jessup was not in the home. After searching the house thoroughly and the area around the home, they called the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Wayne Noggle went the home and, after talking with the Moores, filed a missing persons alert. Lt. David Shaffer of the KCSO called the Mount Vernon Fire Department.
Fire Chief Shawn Christy said the call came in at 3:50 p.m. The MVFD immediately called for mutual aid from College Township Fire Department. EMA interim director Brian Hess responded, as did an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who heard the missing person report on the radio.
The MVFD responded with a medic unit, two engines and eight firefighters. College Township responded with 12 firefighters and the Knox County Fire Chiefs Association’s Gator, a large four-wheel-drive quad runner with a litter mounted on one side.
Noggle said he asked the trooper if an OSHP helicopter was available for the search. It was, and arrived on the scene in about 20 minutes.
While waiting for the helicopter, searchers spread out in a circle around the Moore home. In rain and a strong wind, the concern was to find Jessup before dark.
Four sheriff’s deputies joined the search. Fredericktown EMS Chief Rick Lanuzza and Assistant Fire Chief Larry Schunke brought a quad runner to use in the search.
Lt. Michael Stein and Trooper David Sizemore arrived in the OSHP helicopter. Stein started a systematic search, flying in an expanding circle. The aerial search lasted about 20 minutes before Sizemore radioed that Jessup was spotted sitting against a tree. The time was 5:04 p.m.
Searchers and the men on the quad runner quickly reached Jessup, and wrapped her in blankets and brought her to the medic for treatment. She was later taken to Knox Community Hospital.
Using computer maps, it was determined Jessup had strayed 1,900 feet in a southeast direction from the home, in a straight line. MVFD Assistant Chief Chris Menapace said he believes she took that course, but that she could have headed southeast on Hopewell Road, then across the field to the tree where she was found.
“There was wonderful cooperation between all the agencies; we had a good day,” was how Christy summed up the rescue effort.