Man who spent night in Pigg Hollow woods near bottom of ravine found Monday with minor injuries

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

A 78-year-old man missing since Sunday evening in the heavily wooded Pigg Hollow area was located early Monday afternoon near the bottom of a steep hillside with relatively minor injuries.

Alfred “Al” Charles Dressing was last seen around 2:30 p.m. Sunday near his weekend residence in 1500 block of the western end of Pigg Hollow Road, a narrow dead-end road off Kohrmann Road and Route P. Firemen and emergency services searched for him from dusk to nearly mid-night Sunday.

Included in that search were members of the Dry Creek Bloodhounds group based out of the Leslie area. Tony Wilburn, who said they partner with the Gerald-Rosebud Fire Protection District, was back at Dressing’s property Monday morning to help conduct another search.

He and Dressing’s son-in-law were roughly northeast of the farm house, on a ridge line, when they came across a downed tree. While looking in the area, they spotted Dressing’s red Polaris UTV down the woods off of the ridge line trail.

“We heard a faint call,” said Wilburn. “We heard something real faint. And we heard it again and just followed it.”

Wilburn said Dressing’s son-in-law found him. Wilburn, who didn’t have his dogs out of their kennels yet,  had been assessing what dog to deploy down the steep, rock-strewn hillside. Their search the previous night from dusk to nearly midnight was no where near Dressing was located.

“We weren’t anywhere close but where do you start?” Wilburn said.

Downhill off of the 800-foot elevation ridge they followed the sound down to nearly the bottom of the hillside. Dressing was propped up against a rock where he has spent the night.

Gasconade County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark A. Williams was setting up a command post at New Hope United Methodist Church on Highway 28 outside Owensville late Monday morning and assembling firemen and emergency services from the region there. 

There they had communications and some internet services. Williams was gathering many of the same first responders who participated in the search the night before. Volunteer firemen from neighboring counties were also beginning their trek to the area north and west of Owensville.

Family members reported Dressing had been found at around 1:10 p.m. Monday. Those assembled at New Hope drove in a caravan up Route P toward the scene. Several members of the Owensville, Gerald-Rosebud and Bland fire departments worked their way onto the ridge line path north of the residence and met up with some family members and Dry Creek Bloodhounds members. 

As others arrived, they set up in a field off of Kohrmann Road where Dressing  would eventually be reunited with his wife and family members.

Wilburn credited Dressing with being a key factor in his own rescue.

“He was instrumental to us finding him because he was hollering,” he said.

Rescue personnel determined as a group it would be easier to go downhill to the fields. Several tree limbs and small trees were chain-sawed out of the way as the group carried Dressing in a metal basket downhill the final approximately 100 yards, across a barbed-wire fence, and into the clearing.

Among those helping carry the basket were Dry Creek Bloodhounds members Nick Via and Mike Anderson who are also Gerald-Rosebud firemen, along with Owensville’s Eddie Bossaller, and Jeff Limberg and his daughter, Brookelyn, sheriff’s deputy Shane Lane. Clearing paths were Kim Wilburn and sheriff’s Cpl. Justin Bridges. Owensville’s Rodney Bossaller had walked out to bring back the vehicles to drive them out across at least seven field. Nathan Abel, chief of Belle’s department, and Jeff Arnold, assistant chief for Owensville, were also involved with the rescue handing the difficult communications issues they faced in the valley.

Wilburn joked with Dressimg that they had let the dogs smell his tooth brush and razors to give them his scent. Shelby Clark produced those items from her pocket as they waited for firemen to bring an four-seat side-by-side and a ATV pulling a trailer to haul the party out of the bottoms. Morgan Aytes with the group was also on scene.

Wilburn said Dressing told him he tumbled downhill as some point Sunday night as he was attempting to reach the field. He had apparently got turned around after leaving his UTV up the hillside. He skinned up his arm when he fell and rode out the night there. 

He told Wilburn he threw a rock at an approaching armadillo at one point in the night. Near dawn as lighting from an approaching rain storm developed, he saw deer walking past. He told his rescuers the rain felt good after a hot, humid spent on the ground.

Dressing has a history of prior strokes but appeared in relatively good condition after his ordeal. “This is about the best outcome we could have had,” said Williams when the group returned to the command post set up on Kohrmann Road.

Dressing was transported by Owensville Area Ambulance District personnel to Mercy Hospital Washington for an evaluation. 

“He was in remarkably good shape for what he went through,” said Williams on Tuesday. “I don’t think he wanted to go the hospital but I think he went just to make his wife happy.” The Conservation Department also assisted.