LENOIR -- Caldwell County officials say a man apparently walked about 2 1/2 miles and swam across a creek during the nearly 48 hours he was missing earlier this week.
Ricky Ray Starnes Jr., 35, was found alive about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Edgemont community of northwest Caldwell County. That is in mountainous terrain, about 5 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Starnes walked away from a house on Whispering Water Lane in Edgemont about 5 p.m. Sunday, according to the Caldwell County Sheriffs Office. He was found after residents told authorities a man had come to a house in the area, asking for food and shelter.
Authorities say Starnes told them he became disoriented. He said he walked up Yancey Ridge Trail, then swam across Wilsons Creek and walked some more, before seeing a house and asking for help. Family members had looked for him about 24 hours before contacting authorities Monday afternoon.
Crews searched Monday evening and Tuesday morning, using search dogs in the rugged terrain. Heavy rain fell at time during the search.