Karen Harris was found by a volunteer searcher and returned home safely after she was reported missing on Saturday. (Courtesy Photo / JPD)

Karen Harris was found by a volunteer searcher and returned home safely after she was reported missing on Saturday. (Courtesy Photo / JPD)

Volunteer searcher helped bring missing woman home

The volunteer was motivated by another recent search and rescue case.

A rapid response of search and rescue organizations and volunteers in Juneau responding to a 911 call resulted in a missing woman found safely on Saturday.

Juneau Mountain Rescue and Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search assisted the Alaska State Troopers, alongside volunteers who located Karen Harris, 73, shortly after she was reported missing.

Harris was unharmed and declined medical care, according to an AST dispatch.

“At 20:12 hours a Good Samaritan established verbal contact with the women,” according to the dispatch. “With the combined efforts of Alaska SEADOGS, Juneau Mountain Rescue, and volunteer searchers, she was found on a hillside in thick brush next to Basin Road and was escorted out of the woods and was provided transportation to her residence.”

Volunteer Preston Nelson said he found Harris where she had lost her cane and become trapped in thick vegetation as he walked out calling her name.

“I had initially walked past her. I faintly heard her saying yes, or something along those lines,” said Nelson in a phone interview. “I called 911, and asked them to patch me through the Troopers.”

Nelson said he was motivated to help by a recent and tragic situation in his own life, when Nelson’s grandmother, Geraldine Nelson, died after becoming lost in the Lemon Creek area.

“I got involved because two months ago my grandmother went missing,” Nelson said. “The community came out for me, so I came out for someone around the same age.”

Nelson said he was glad he was able to help, and that Harris was well.

“It made me really happy that we found her safe. It was 80 degrees that day; she must have been really really thirsty,” Nelson said. “When I got to her, I asked if she was injured, and she said no.”

Nelson said he was also considering doing more, motivated by his grandmother’s loss and by previous experience seeing search and rescuers in action here in Juneau

I’ve been thinking about reaching out to JMR and seeing how I can volunteer,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said he wished Silver Alerts, public alerts for missing elderly or cognitively impaired people, were pushed out more aggressively.

“It would have been nice,” Nelson said. “I know when my grandma went missing, nothing was issued until the next day, which was not happy.”

Those wishing to opt in to the Silver or Amber Alerts for email can do so at http://www.amberalert.alaska.gov/.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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