Missing Watauga Co. man, 87, found in crashed car off Parkway

Updated:

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. —

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An 87-year-old man from Watauga County was hospitalized after a crash along the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Family members said William Richardson suffered from hypothermia after going off the roadway and down a steep embankment, where he spent Wednesday night in the woods.  

All morning long, the N.C. Department of Transportation had silver alert warnings up on their signs across the mountains.  

Family members said they drove roads from Watauga County to Hickory looking for William Richardson. 

William Richardson ended up near along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the Ashe and Watauga county line. The temperature fell into the low 50s on Wednesday night.

"He’s real beat up.  But he's talking, coherent and I think for being out in the woods, he's in pretty good shape,” said son Kevin Richardson.

 Kevin Richardson and his brother spent much of the night driving in the mountains and the foothills looking for their father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. He was last seen around 9 p.m.

 They said when he was found he had signs of hypothermia and needed to be warmed up. A couple from Louisiana saw the crashed car and helped, before firefighters arrived, by putting blankets on him. 

 "They covered him up, which is real important, ’cause he was out in the woods all night and all he had on him was a pair of jeans and a short-sleeve shirt," Kevin Richardson said.

 Park rangers said William Richardson appeared to have become disoriented in the darkness. He had stumbled down the hillside away from the roadway, where he was exposed to the elements for hours. 

 "If he suffers from any medical problem and gets wet, anything like that, he can certainly suffer from hypothermia,” said district ranger Dave Bauer.

 Family members want to thank that couple and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

 They said one of the deputies worked for hours trying to find William Richardson and played a key role in getting the alert out.