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Missing hikers found safe by Haleyville family and K9 unit from the Shoals

The two ladies went missing on Wednesday and actually called in to say they were lost. Normally, cellphone service in Bankhead is sparse.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 2:44 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2020 6:11 PM

On Thursday, two hikers were found safe in Lawrence County by a family from Haleyville and rescue K9 crew from the Shoals.

The two women who went missing are in their 60s and from Winston County. They spent almost 24 hours in Bankhead National Forest after they got off of the Randolph Trailhead and became disorientated. When they made it out of the woods, one woman did get checked out but both are okay.

Officials at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and all surrounding counties searched for the ladies until 3 a.m. and were back at it Thursday morning. The women came out of the woods around 1 p.m. with rescue crews and were exhausted.

"We were so relieved. My son, he was kind of expecting it. He thought he heard some voices," said Meldoy Smith, whose family was the first to find the two women on the trail. "We kept walking and like five minutes later, there they were and we were so excited. Thank God they are okay."

Then, rescue K9, Kusse, and her handlers with the Northwest Alabama K9 Search and Rescue helped lead the two ladies out to safety.

"Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, we all worked together and brought them home," said Corey Speegle, who's with the Northwest Alabama K9 Search and Rescue unit.

Since the pandemic started in March, with shutdowns and quarantines, Bankhead National Forest has seen more and more visitors, according to the sheriff's office. Right now, they are averaging one to two rescues a month. Officials said while Bankhead is beautiful, you need to be prepared to hike this area.

"We encourage people to prepare yourself. Get an understanding of where you are going and what you will need to take with you as far as food, water and medical supplies," said Tim Sandlin, Chief Deputy at the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.

One of the ladies did tell WAAY 31 they got confused on where the trail was at, because the leaves falling covered it and that's when they became lost. Regional search and rescue crews along with helicopters helped search for them.

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