MISSING Sequoyah County man is found unharmed


Saturday, July 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


An autistic man is home with his family, after spending the day, Friday, lost in woods. An intensive search lasted all day in rural Sequoyah County.

KOTV’s Emory Bryan says the man is 25, but has the mental capacity of a young child. He's autistic, and ran away from home early Friday morning. His family started a search, but soon called for help. The search covered several square miles of a wooded area, accessible in some places only by four wheelers, but horses and mules had the surest footing.

Searchers worked from a picture and description of 25 year old Shawn Harris, an autistic man, unable to speak. The family told them he had run away before, and managed to stay out of sight for five days. By early afternoon, a searcher on horseback thought he spotted Harris, but he lost him. J.W. Philpot, Sequoyah Co Sheriff: "But if he's watches and he sees you and he hides then with the heat, the dogs can't scent real good." The missing man's family could do nothing but wait and worry. The heat was intense, and Harris had no food or water.

With fifty searchers on the ground, and in the air, the family was hopeful he would be spotted. Sister, Ayri Klingerberg, “It was a turn your head and he's gone, turn your head and he's gone thing. “

The search ended after 5 PM. A family more than a mile away, unaware of the search, spots him in a pasture and calls the sheriff. A deputy arrives, hoping he won't run again. Harris comes toward the deputy, saying nothing, but appearing relieved to be safe. Deputy Don Metcalf with the Sequoyah Co Sheriffs Office: "He was sunburned, scratched, a little bruises, some blood from the scratches from twigs and thorns."

Deputies and dozens of volunteers conducted the search. In the end, it was a sharp-eyed family who spotted the missing man.