Two remain hospitalized after being rescued on Cheat Mountain

CHEAT MOUNTAIN – The three fishermen, two men and a boy, who were rescued by police and emergency officials in the Cheat Mountain area of Randolph County Monday evening are recovering from the incident, medical officials said.

Billy Wayne Wilkerson, 41, his son, Garrett Wilkerson, 12, were both taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown to be treated for hypothermia after being exposed to the elements for more than 24 hours. Billy Wilkerson was reported to be in fair condition and Garrett Wilkerson was reported to be in good condition, Ruby Memorial Hospital officials reported Tuesday afternoon.

Ricky Lee Rohrbaugh, 42, the third member of the party, reportedly refused treatment by rescue and emergency officials Monday night.

Captain D.P. Reider of the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police said the three individuals were traveling to Cheat Mountain on a fishing trip Sunday. They got out of their white GMC vehicle near the File’s Creek area. Reider said the fisherman told him that due to the length of time it took them to reach their destination, approximately six hours, the trio decided to come back. However, due to incoming snow and cold conditions they became disoriented and lost their way.

Reider said the fishing group told him they were then able to build a fire to try to stay warm in the frigid conditions. It wasn’t until about 5:30 p.m. Monday that officials were able to locate them and attempt a rescue.

The rescue effort included three helicopters, including a Health Net chopper at Camp Pioneer in Beverly, a bulldozer and various other vehicles including all-terrain and snowmobiles.

A ground search was then conducted by the Troop 3 Search & Rescue Team, along with local fire department personnel and volunteers.

Meanwhile, a State Police Aviation aerial search was underway, but “windy conditions made the aerial search extremely hazardous, and the very rugged ground conditions and deep snow pack hampered the search efforts on the ground,” a State Police press release issued Monday night states.

The individuals were transported to a care facility once they were brought down from the mountain.

In addition to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police, the U.S. Marshals service, the Beverly and Huttonsville-Mill Creek fire departments aided in the rescue.

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