Elderly county man found safe after 12 hours in woods

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   All's well that ends well -- and then everybody goes out for breakfast. At least, that was the plan around 4 a.m. today after a search-and-rescue team located a Carter County man who wandered off the Appalachian Trail Tuesday afternoon and was found 12 hours later.
   According to Carter County EMS Deputy Director David Nichols, 79-year-old Floyd Buckles of Elizabethton and a friend, tentatively identified as Horace Salyers, drove to the trail entrance near the Carter County/Johnson County line on Cross Mountain off of Highway 91 and "were out spending time in the woods, following the trail."
   Around 4 p.m., the two became separated and Salyers returned to get help. Members of Carter County Rescue Squad's High-Angle Rescue Team were dispatched around 9 p.m. to look for Buckles. They were joined by Horace and David Salyers, members of the Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the Johnson County Rescue Squad, the Shady Valley and Hampton Volunteer Fire Departments, members of the Carter County and Johnson County Sheriff's Departments, Carter County constables, U.S. Forest Service personnel, and a member of the Washington County Rescue Squad.
   Buckles was found "alive and well shortly before 4 a.m., well off of the Appalachian Trail, almost in Doe Valley," Nichols said. "He was going to come out in the Campbell Creek area of Johnson County."
   Buckles had stopped for the night, Nichols said, when he heard the 10-member search party team coming. "I'd say he was having the time of his life, really. It's beautiful out in there," he said.
   Members of the search party, along with David Salyers, who came to assist and stayed with them, were still in the woods around 4 a.m., according to Nichols.
   "The whole bunch of them are going to walk out there in Doe Valley. We've done sent people after them and I guess we'll try to find somewhere to take them and get them something to eat," he said.
   The search provided rescue personnel from several departments not used to working together an opportunity to re-establish ties.
   "We've forged another relationship with Shady Valley," Nichols said. "We've always had a mutual aid agreement, but this is the first time in a long, long time we've ever worked with them."