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Wayward hiker found in woods

July 15, 1998

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A police helicopter, K-9 units and fire and rescue workers were called in to assist the Morgan County Sheriff's Department in a search for a Baltimore hiker reported lost in a wooded area off W.Va. 9 Wednesday afternoon, according to Chief Deputy Ronald McIntire.

The hiker was found before the dogs arrived, McIntire said.

Keith Crowder, 41, was reported missing by friend Julio Smith, of Baltimore, after the two were separated during a hike in the woods in the Spruce Pine Hollow area, he said.

After waiting for Crowder to catch up with him, Smith flagged down a passerby to call the sheriff's department, McIntire said.

Deputies arrived shortly after 2 p.m., he said.

While the trails would have led Crowder out of the woods eventually, there was a concern for his health because of the heat, McIntire said. The area - popular with hikers - is hilly and heavily forested, he said.

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A Maryland State Police helicopter started the effort by searching the woods, he said.

While the aircraft went to refuel, McIntire said he had Smith lead him to the spot where he and Crowder started the hike.

About 100 yards in, Smith spotted Crowder, who heard the helicopters and realized there was a search, he said.

"He must have circled," McIntire said.

It was around 4:30 p.m., he said.

Fire and rescue workers from Berkeley Springs were on hand and would have joined in after the dogs searched the woods, McIntire said.

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