The call to Douglas County to search for a missing Villa Grove man was the first for members of the Peoria County Sheriff's Auxiliary Force after recent training to be certified in search and rescue efforts.
Three members of the unit - James Hanley, Todd Roth and Christopher Hofmann - joined Peoria County Sheriff's Department Lt. Mark Molleck in the effort in rural Douglas County.
Assigned to search a cornfield as part of a massive statewide response, similar to an effort earlier this year in Peoria County, Hanley found the missing man alive but unable to speak between two rows of corn. The 76-year-old man was transported to an Urbana hospital and listed in good condition Tuesday night, according to local media accounts.
"It feels good to help in some way, and it was a big team effort," Molleck said Wednesday. "It really makes you feel like you contributed."
The Peoria County Sheriff's Department made a significant push at the beginning of the year to strengthen its ranks of volunteers and begin new search and rescue training exercises, among other training programs.
In the midst of that push, but before the search and rescue training had taken place, a Peoria man suffering from Alzheimer's disease went missing and prompted the purported largest ever search effort in the state. The body of John Garrett was found a week later.
Molleck said the effort and results of the search Tuesday showed the value of the training and local need. An additional training weekend is scheduled for late July to certify more volunteer personnel.
"They did stellar," he said of the crew that helped resolve the Douglas County case Tuesday.