Man found in swamp

Published 8:47 pm Monday, August 17, 2009

A Portsmouth man was found early Monday morning in the Great Dismal Swamp after he rode his bike off a path Sunday evening.

Suffolk spokesperson Debbie George said the man was found around 3:30 a.m., and “was not hurt, but hungry.”

In a press release sent late Sunday night, George said the Search and Rescue Team of the Suffolk Police Department after Suffolk Emergency Communications received a call from the man at approximately 8:30 p.m. The man, whose name was not released, said he had entered the swamp on a bike, got a flat tire and was attempting to back track when he got lost.

Chris Lowery, who has been with the National Wildlife Refuge and Great Dismal Swamp for two years, said this is the first time he has had a swamp visitor get lost.

“It happens,” Lowery said, “but usually it’s deer hunters because they are not on the trail. They are out hunting and they lose their bearings. This is the first one that I’ve had that one of our visitors have gotten lost.”

Lowery said he has not spoken to the man, but said he ventured off the public trails to one of the worst paths, visibility wise.

“It was probably worse than if he were in the woods,” Lowery said. “It’s all grown with shrubs and bushes. We may have mowed it 10 years ago, but not since then.”

For people thinking of visiting the swamp, Lowery said there are a couple of ways to avoid falling into a similar situation.

“There are lessons to be learned from all of this,” he said. “For one, stay on the trail. They are well maintained and easy for you. Secondly, give yourself time. It’s a big place. The refuge is 112,000 acres. You can go seven to eight miles into the refuge, and you’ve got to give yourself that time to get back, especially if you’re coming later in the afternoon.”

Lowery added the man was lucky to have a GPS system with him that could get a reading in that part of the swamp.

“It was a successful rescue,” he said. “We had great people involved. I feel fortunate that the people we had involved were able to rescue him and no one was hurt because of it.”