Family members of 8-year-old Savannah McCollum reported her missing around 5:30 p.m., and after a three-hour search, she was found safe near Glassy Mountain.
A number of agencies joined together to search for Savannah, including the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Pickens Fire Department, the Rescue Squad, the Department of Natural Resources and the Highway Patrol, in addition to dozens of volunteers, according to Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office used their helicopter to join in the search, Morgan said.
The helicopter is equipped with heat-sensing equipment, very useful in a search that took place primarily after dark, Morgan said.
Searchers believed that Savannah’s dogs had stayed with the girl after they did not return to the home.
Searchers used tracking dogs to try and pick up the scent of Savannah and her dogs.
“You try to do stay out of the woods until the dogs can do their thing,” Morgan said.
“You don’t want to mess their scent up.”
Searchers looked through the woods, calling Savannah’s name and listening for any response, and set up a perimeter around the area, checking to see if the girl had stumbled across a road and was now walking it.
Savannah was located by a full-time member of the Pickens Fire Department,
firefighter Chris Elrod, who lives on North Glassy Mountain Road, according to firefighter Chris Atkins.
Elrod was on his way to Glassy Mountain Church — where firefighters involved in the search effort were stationed, when a woman who also lives on the road flagged him down, Atkins said.
The woman had heard Savannah crying for help.
Morgan said that Savannah’s cries for help could be heard, but echoes made it hard for rescuers to pinpoint her location.
Elrod was then able to locate her.
Atkins said the girl was found about 150 yards off the road at the rocky base of Glassy Mountain.
Savannah was taken to Cannon Hospital for observation. Other than scratches received during her time in the woods, she was not seriously injured.
Atkins said the community really came together in the search for Savannah.
“Everybody really came together as a team,” he said.
Morgan agreed. “We’re fortunate in this area to have agencies with different jurisdictions work so closely together, to combine resources to get whatever’s needed to get the job done,” he said. “Not every place in South Carolina or in the country works together like that. We’re very fortunate, all of us.”
Sandy Foster, Savannah’s grandmother, said Savannah’s family wishes to thank everyone involved in finding her.
“The whole family is grateful to everybody who came out and helped find her,” Foster said.
“We just feel an overwhelming sense of relief and feel very blessed that it turned out the way it did. We’re just glad she’s okay.”