An 87-year-old woman missing for two days in Kershaw County was found Sunday about noon lying face down on a nest of fire ants in a woods a mile from her house.
The woman, Mary Myers Clark, of the Cassatt community, was transported to Palmetto Richland by helicopter. She was reported to be dehydrated and in critical condition.
“I asked one of our deputies how many fire ant bites she had. I said, ‘Hundreds?’ He said, ‘No, thousands’,” said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.
Matthews said the woman was said by family members to have dementia and be prone to wandering off on foot.
The last time a family member checked on her was about 8 a.m. Friday but the woman is believed to have wandered off sometime Friday evening, Matthews said.
The woman was the object of an all-out land and air search by deputies, firefighters, volunteers and a SLED helicopter. The firefighters who found her were from the Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department.
At any given time over the past two days, up to 40 people were searching but more than 100 might have been involved in the search overall, he said.
“Two firefighters on 4-wheelers were just about ready to give up searching that area when they spotted her,” Matthews said.
“They tried to knock off as many fire ants as they could.”
Matthews said family members checked on the woman once a day, but he said families with an aging relative prone to wandering may well want to check more often.
Clark, he said, “had to be a tough woman to survive.”
-- John Monk