The race to find an elderly grandmother in the woods of rural Northwest Georgia continued Monday as the hope to find 83-year-old Barbara McCray alive remained strong.
Members of several public safety agencies, search and rescue teams, McCray’s family and volunteers converged for the second day in the area of Dugdown Mountain south of Cedartown, on the county line between Polk and Haralson counties.
“The family has said that she is in really good shape for an 83 year old, that she walks a lot, including on some of the trails back here,” Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd said. “She does have early onset dementia, so she could be confused. We’re just hoping for the best.”
McCray was last seen at her home on Dugdown Road in Polk County around 6 p.m. on Saturday. Her daughter, Vickie Coleman, said one of her relatives who lives in the area saw her walking that evening toward U.S. 27, about a mile from her home.
A Mattie’s Call was issued for McCray on Monday afternoon.
“We’ve crossed the highway and looked for her. I looked for her on foot for three or four hours and then got on the four wheeler and looked for her some more,” Coleman said. “We’re just hoping that, you know, it’ll be a good outcome.”
McCray’s family called 911 to report her missing Sunday morning, sparking a huge search effort that has included multiple local and state law enforcement and emergency services and lasted from around 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Georgia State Patrol had a helicopter searching the area, and a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera was flown overnight, but neither picked up any trace of McCray.
Dodd said Monday they had searched two nearby ponds and were in the process of searching a third, but as of Monday afternoon no leads to McCray’s whereabouts or condition had been found.
“We appreciate everybody coming out,” Coleman said. “You know, I'm hopeful. I feel like it's in God's hands. And I'm just praying for a good outcome.”
McCray was last seen wearing a pink shirt, gray shorts, and gray Nike tennis shoes. The case is being handled by the Polk County Police Criminal Investigations Division, and detective Caleb Bowman said the response has been like nothing he’s seen in four years.
“It’s just been an unbelievable response from local and state agencies, and there has been a large community response as well,” Bowman said.
Assistance has come from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Fire Department, Haralson County Fire Department, Polk County Emergency Management, Haralson County Emergency Management, Catoosa County Fire Department Search and Rescue, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia State Patrol, Redmond EMS, Gordon County Emergency Management, Georgia Department of Public Health Disaster Assistance Response Team, and Randall's Adventure and Training Search and Rescue, a nonprofit regional search and rescue agency based in Gallant, Alabama.
“We’ve got very experienced help from nearly every field you could think of,” said Landon Hendrix with Polk County EMA. “We are so grateful for all of the help.”
Anyone with information on McCray’s location is asked to contact Polk County E-911 at 770-748-3400.