Couple found in Alapaha after seven hour search - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Couple found in Alapaha after seven hour search

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May 22, 2008

Alapaha - They went too far down the river and couldn't make it back before dark.

They called 911 and that touched off a search by dozens of rescue workers who used four wheelers, a helicopter, and cell phone technology to find the stranded couple.

It was a warm welcome in the early morning hours.

24 year-old Daniel Hunter and 22 year-old Ashley Morris received hugs and kisses from family members, many in their pajamas.

And they weren't the only ones smiling.  "I was about as happy as the mother was and you could see smiles on the deputies faces. They were excited about it being a safe return also," says Berrien County Sheriff Anthony Heath.

The young couple had parked their truck under Highway 82 in Berrien County to kayak on the Alapaha River around 11:00 Wednesday morning.

But as night fell and storm clouds rolled in, they realized they wouldn't make it back.  "They realized they had gone to far to make it back to the point where they put in and decided they would sit still because they were tired."

Around 5:00 PM, they called 911 and tried to lead rescuers to their location.  "Around 15 minutes to eight, both cell phones were dead. We got the last GPS coordinates off their cell phones and that helped us locate them also," Heath adds.

Every available deputy was called in, DNR, Alapaha Police and a GSP helicopter. A flare spotted them around 1:00 Thursday morning.

"We were going to stay here all night, whatever it took to find them to make a safe return."

They had been stranded six miles from where they put in...only four wheelers were able to get them out.

"They were in the middle of nowhere."

Neither was injured and they were reunited with worried family members around 2:00 AM.

The couple declined to go on camera but told us they were exhausted after 14 hours on the river.