04/07/10 — Jimmy Kornegay found, safe

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Jimmy Kornegay found, safe

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 7, 2010 1:46 PM

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Jimmy Kornegay

MOUNT OLIVE -- Despite a night spent lying on the ground and having to chase off coyotes, the first thing that former town commissioner Jimmy Kornegay wanted to know when rescuers reached him mid-morning Tuesday was who had won the Duke-Butler game Monday night.

Fire Chief Steve Martin told Kornegay he didn't know, that he had been out all night looking for him.

Kornegay, 68, who went missing Monday in a wooded area west of town, was taken by ambulance to Wayne Memorial Hospital where he was admitted and is being treated for dehydration, fire ant bites and sunburn, his wife, Lorraine, said this morning.

Kornegay was found just before 11 a.m. Tuesday following hours of searching using a Highway Patrol helicopter and a private plane from Pikeville-based Wayne Aviation.

Martin spotted Kornegay's truck from a plane piloted by Bill Walizer of Wayne Aviation, leading to his rescue.

Mrs. Kornegay said today that her husband, who is a diabetic, was in good spirits when he was found and that he is doing well.

It is possible that he could come home later today, she said.

"His blood sugar is good, but he is covered with fire ant bites," she said. "He is bruised so badly from where he rolled over and over and he has a severe sunburn. He could come home today depending on his blood work.

"He is doing very well. You can't imagine the relief that we all have."

Mrs. Kornegay said her husband had gone to the area off West Main Street Extension to look at a pond as possible "fishing hole" for him and their grand- children.

His truck became stuck and Kornegay, who often uses a walker or cane, tried to walk back to the road. He did not have his walker with him and his cell phone did not work, she said.

"He finally got to the ground and rolled about 200 yards," she said. "It got to the point that he could not do that any more. He did not have the strength.

"It got dark. He said two coyotes came within about 50 feet of him and that was the most frightening part. He yelled at them then and they ran off into the woods."

Mrs. Kornegay said she and her family had been overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up to help in the search.

"You cannot imagine how many people called and came. We had somebody call and come from Raleigh. We had somebody call and come from Radford. It was just amazing, they just came in and said, 'What can I do?' We sort of organized and sent people to wherever we thought he might be."

Kornegay owns land in Duplin and Wayne counties. He also enjoys visiting ponds and old cemeteries and just driving around on country roads, she said.

The search went as far south as Magnolia in Duplin County.

"We were beginning to run out of places to look for him," she said.

Kornegay left home sometime between 8 and 9 a.m. Monday. When he couldn't be found, his wife alerted police and a statewide Silver Alert was issued.

Mrs. Kornegay said her husband was at the bank around 9:30 a.m. and then delivered straw to a friend.

"Steve Martin and (Mount Olive Police Chief) Ralph Schroeder are heroes to me, and all of Ralph's staff," she said.

She also thanked Sheriff Carey Winders, who arranged for the airplane and pilot at the Wayne County Airport as well as Duplin Sheriff's Office deputies and the Highway Patrol.

"Without them and the participation of the air hunt we would not have found him because his truck was so far back in the woods it could not be seen from the road," she said.

"Thank you for all the people who called, came and looked. The family can not thank the people enough who assisted, called, came and worked with us."