An 80-year-old woman who went missing from a home in Blairstown Sunday afternoon was found and rescued in a wooded area early Monday morning.
Police said Barbara Shauger, who was described as having dementia, was reported missing about 4:30 p.m. by her son, who was from Maplewood and was working on a house on Skunktown Lane.
Blairstown Police Chief Scott Johnsen said the woman’s son told police he had last seen his mother around 1:30 p.m. He said she was not familiar with the area.
Numerous agencies and volunteers combed through the thick forest and rugged terrain near where Shauger was last seen despite several severe storms.
After an extensive search, Shauger was found in a heavily wooded area behind Skunktown Lane at approximately 1:30 a.m.
Police said she was discovered by rescue and recovery dog Kazy and her handler Stephanie Struble from the New Jersey Rescue and Recovery K9 Unit based in Glen Gardner.
Shauger was described as being muddy and wet but did not seem to be injured. She was transported to a hospital by the Blairstown Ambulance Corps for evaluation.
Police and rescue services set up a command post at the Blairstown Ambulance headquarters, from where more than 50 searchers were dispatched.
In addition to the official agencies, numerous local residents joined in the search, with some asking local businesses that were still open at the time to keep watch and others asking residents to check garages, barns, cars and other places that might provide shelter.
“A lot of people helped out,” Johnsen said. “They passed the word, checked their streets and notified businesses.”
The search took on added urgency around 10 p.m. as a line of intense thunderstorms approached from the west. In addition to the danger it posed to the missing 80-year-old, who was not dressed for cold, wet weather, downpours can obscure any scents that the K9 units pick up.
In all, five canine units joined in the search. Other agencies that assisted included Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, Warren County Corrections, Warren County Tactical Response Team, Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Sussex County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit Blairstown Hose Co. No. 1, Blairstown Ambulance Corps, Blairstown OEM and New Jersey State Police.
Volunteer organizations included members from the Rescue Teams of Warren County, New Jersey Rescue and Recovery, Central Jersey Search and Rescue, New Jersey Search and Rescue and Specialty K9 Search and Recovery.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.