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November 22, 2013

Man on walk gets stuck in mud, calls 911 for help

NEW CASTLE — A Slippery Rock Township man used his cell phone to call for help after he became stuck in mud.

James Hogue, 70, walking with his dog, Daisy, along a pipeline in a swampy area in the Copper Road/Center Church Road area, became stuck in mud on Wednesday afternoon.

Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Department chief George Johnson said Hogue realized he was in trouble and about 4:30 p.m. and called 911 for help.

The Lawrence County 911 center dispatcher remained on the phone with Hogue and notified the fire department, then by phone he directed about 10 firefighters to his location. He was found about 6:30 p.m.

“He directed us in from Copper Road, but there was better access off Center Church Road,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he is grateful for a neighbor, Brian Pancher of Copper Road, who provided a flat-bottom boat, canoe and all-terrain vehicles to help in the search.

“He told us ‘What’s mine is yours.’ He even went out in a boat with one of our firefighters,” Johnson said.

“It was getting cold and really dark,” he said.

Johnson said the firemen, assisted by Noga Ambulance and the state police, called for a state police helicopter and a search light, “but we located him before they came out.”

Johnson said Hogue’s dog, a miniature collie, stayed  with him throughout the ordeal.

“He told us he is familiar with the area, that he frequently walks along the pipeline, looks for arrowheads and watches wildlife, including beavers,” the chief said. He said Hogue told firemen he had tried to cross an unfamiliar area but was “sucked in” by the thick mud.

”I’ve said it before,” Johnson said. “Fire fighters are not called to as many structure fires as we are called out for odd rescues.

“This is a search and rescue story with a happy ending,” he said. “But if he hadn’t had a cell phone, we would never have found him.”

After his rescue, Hogue was taken to Ellwood City Hospital where he was treated and released.

“We were concerned due to the cold and the hours he was exposed to the elements and water.”

Both the man and his dog are doing OK, Johnson said.

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