PDT Staff Writer
A Scioto County man missing since Sept. 24, has been found alive after living off sourgrass in a wooded area of Scherer’s Hollow Road.
“It’s a good feeling,” Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain David Hall said Tuesday, minutes after he shook hands with James Laack, 35, of Swauger Valley. “It was so cold when I got to the office, I told the guys, ‘come on get that Flir (camera) unit, I want to check some houses on Mabert Road. It’s just too cold for him to survive. We took the Flir unit out to some vacant houses and we didn’t see him.”
Hall said someone living on Mabert Road saw Laack walking down the hill and yelled at him “Matt’s been looking for you.” Matt is Matt Humble, Laack’s best friend.
“They got him (Laack) to walk over to the yard, and they called Matt on the phone, and Matt talked to him,” Hall said. “He stayed here until Matt got here. He got something to eat and got something to drink.”
Hall said Laack had been staying in an abandoned house in the same area where his car had been found and last week he had been spotted on a surveillance camera. A deer camera picked up his picture as he cut a piece off a salt lick, letting authorities know he was still alive.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter circled overhead again and again, last Wednesday morning, utilizing a Flir Infrared camera in an attempt to locate Laack in one of the areas around the same property where his car was found.
“We asked him if he had seen the helicopter,” Hall said. “And he said, no he hadn’t seen the helicopter.”
Hall said, from what he could learn from Laack in a short time Tuesday, he had been afraid to face his father because his car had been in a slight mishap, and he was afraid he was in trouble with the police.
“I said, ‘buddy, you’re not in trouble with us,’” Hall said. “‘We’re just glad to see you.’”
The lead investigator on the case was Detective Sgt. Dan Malone, who repeatedly returned to the site and led search parties on four-wheelers, back through miles of dirt roads.
“Everybody did good work,” Hall said. “The canines, the State Patrol, with all their support, it was a complete effort. For now he’s going back with his family, and they’re going to take him to the hospital and get him checked out.”
Laack turned up missing when he left his job at noon on Sept. 24, as if he was going to lunch, and was not heard from again until spotted Tuesday.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com