Search extends in Garland

GARLAND — A massive multi-agency search and rescue mission for a missing elderly man in the Garland area was still ongoing late Wednesday, with plans to extend the search through the night and as long as necessary as more and more agencies traveled in from surrounding counties to assist in the manhunt.

The search was initiated shortly after 1:15 p.m. Tuesday when the Sampson County E-911 center received a report of a missing person off of Birdy Lane in Garland.

William Earl Powell, 72, of 85 Birdy Lane, known by most of his neighbors as “Willie,” was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, grey denim pants and brown slip-on loafers. Powell stands about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs approximately 180 pounds. He has green eyes.

Powell suffers from dementia and has a history of wandering off from his residence, authorities said.

The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office and Sampson County Emergency Management are coordinating the search and rescue mission for Powell. The local agencies were being assisted by emergency service crews from Bladen, Pender and Brunswick counties, as well as state emergency resources.

Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope said late Wednesday that the list of assisting agencies was growing, with crews from Johnston and others also arriving to help.

“It’s still ongoing,” Pope said of the search. “It will go throughout the night and into the morning.”

The search area is currently spanning the town of Garland and wooded areas south of Garland. That area was expanded and broken into quadrants to facilitate the search for Powell.

“We’ve got it split into quadrants and we have crews searching and clearing each quadrant,” Pope pointed out.

The sheriff’s captain said Sampson County authorities will evaluate the progress of the mission in the morning if Powell is still missing. There is currently no lack of resources on the ground in the search for the man.

“We’ve got people coming from all across the state to help us,” he said.

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