BANKHEAD NATIONAL FOREST - An experienced hiker, who had been in the Bankhead National Forest for three days, was found and rescued Tuesday, April 9, leading to an emotional moment when the man was reunited with family members before being transported for medical treatment at Princeton Hospital in Birmingham. Sid Burgess, 70, of Homewood, entered the Randolph Trailhead of the Bankhead forest to hike at daybreak on Saturday, April 6, and was last seen by another hiker around 10 a.m. on top of White Creek Falls, which is about six miles into the hike, rescue officials said. Burgess did not return home Saturday night, leading his family to worry and contact authorities, according to Winston County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bryan Kirkpatrick, who is also incident command chief. A incident command center was set up at the entrance to the Randolph trailhead. A search began on Sunday morning, April 6, lasting for about 12 hours but no sign of Burgess. The search was called off Monday, April 7, due to the threat and ongoing severe weather, Kirkpatrick said. The search, which by then had gathered support from U.S. Forest Service officials along with numerous fire departments, Wildsouth, Homewood Fire as well as the North Alabama Dog Team. continued Tuesday morning. Burgess was located around 1 p.m. lying beside a creek in the area of White Creek Falls where he had last been seen. Kirkpatrick noted the man was in good spirits and had been living off water from the creek. Burgess had suffered some lacerations on his legs, but authorities were unclear if that was what caused him to delay exiting the forest or it he became disoriented. A helicopter from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency of Montgomery was dispatched to the scene, which rescued Burgess from the forest and transported him around four miles to where a landing zone had been set up at the concrete slab where Brothers Industries had once been located off old Highway 195. There, Regional Paramedical Service was stationed, with medics assisting the flight crew in transporting Burgess from the helicopter to the ambulance, so he could be transported for treatment at Princeton Hospital, BIrmingham. Between the helicopter and ambulance, Burgess was met with a tearful reunion with family members crying and giving him hugs.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.