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Moundsville Man Found Alive, Alert After Long Search

Photo by Alan Olson Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard, right, and Ohio County EMA Director Lou Vargo, left, coordinate search efforts using a map of Bethlehem with rescuers from several local agencies.

BETHLEHEM — Nearly 23 hours of searching for Frank Ott paid off as the Moundsville man was found alive, alert and OK on Tuesday near the I-470 ballfields, after apparently wandering off from a gas station following a Monday afternoon car accident.

Ott was found on the banks of a small stream near the ball fields by a team consisting of Marshall County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Department of Corrections personnel, according to Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard. Ott was found while the officers were using drones to scope out the area around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Howards said Ott was awake and responsive, and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Police say the 85-year-old Ott was involved in a car accident Monday afternoon, when Bethlehem police took him to the Marathon gas station in town to contact someone to take him home. At that time, Ott was said to have been examined by first responders, who determined that he was aware, in good shape and mindful. Ott made two phone calls to unknown numbers at the gas station before apparently wandering off around 3 p.m.

Before being found Tuesday, Ott had last been seen walking toward Village Plaza around 4 p.m. Monday.

Ohio County and Bethlehem officers were assisted by emergency management officials from Ohio and Marshall counties, Department of Corrections personnel and dozens of volunteers, many of whom were Ott’s family members. Drones and search dogs were utilized to help find Ott, too, which Howard said were a huge help.

Ott’s grandson, Joe Wendt, was among the volunteers who spent the better part of two days searching. Earlier in the day, Wendt estimated that everyone not in uniform was a family member helping out with search efforts, saying that the day had been a hard one. By the time Ott was found, Wendt was relieved by the good news.

“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone that put their time in. It’s been a long couple days helping the family, and it’s very much appreciated,” he said.

On Monday, search efforts went from around 4 p.m. to nearly midnight, when it was too dark and unsafe to continue searching for Ott. Efforts focused on the area near Village Drive, where they began searching again Tuesday morning around 8:30. While teams of volunteers went down into the hills and woods around Bethlehem, officers went door-to-door to check with local residents to see if Ott had paid them a visit and not told anyone.

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