Suspicious vehicle call leads to rescue of man suffering from heat exhaustion



A suspicious vehicle call Saturday, July 9 helped Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s deputies and local citizens find a lost Provencal man suffering from heat exhaustion while searching for arrowheads near the Flora.
Deputies responded at 12:34 p.m. to NATCOM 911 Center reports of a suspicious vehicle abandoned in the woods off of Old Bayou Blue Road. A couple checking their deer lease came across the vehicle.
Deputy D. Caballero was assigned the call for service and rode with the couple in their truck a couple miles into the woods to the vehicle, a black 2009 Toyota Camry.
Deputies noticed the vehicle did not have a license plate, but determined it had not been parked for an extended period of time. The windows were down and food and a cell phone were observed inside.
The heat index on Saturday was near 114 degrees.
The area was checked, but they were unable to locate anyone.
Deputies ran the license plate through the National Crime Information Center and learned of a possible owner in the Shreveport area.
Deputies attempted to find a contact number for the owner, but were unsuccessful.
Sheriff’s Detective Lt. J. Byles was contacted and briefed. Caballero left to research law enforcement databases.
A short while later, the Shreveport vehicle owner contacted deputies by phone, and learned she sold the vehicle to Johnny Stewart, 40, of Provencal.
Deputies learned one of Stewart’s hobbies was looking for arrowheads.
As the investigation progressed, deputies made contact with Stewart’s girlfriend who reported she last heard from him at 2:30 a.m., and that he was lost in the woods.
She also reported that Stewart was supposed to pick her up from work at 5 a.m. but never showed up.
Four hours had passed since deputies initially came in contact with the vehicle.
Dep. Caballero contacted Lt. Robertson and the couple requesting they meet back at the scene where, after a briefing, they entered thick wooded area to search.
Deputies heard a response to their yells in a distance.
They continued searching until they came upon Stewart suffering from what appeared to be heat exhaustion. Deputies say Stewart was lying down and had taken most of his clothes off. He was confused, his speech was slurred, couldn’t keep his eyes open and he couldn’t complete sentences when asked questions.
Lt. B. Smith and the couple, Jessie and Rebecca Greer, who is a RN, arrived with ice and water.
The Greer’s began to work their way to the scene to administer aid to Stewart.
Deputies then began to coordinate extraction efforts.
Jessie Greer and Lt. Smith walked back through the woods to retrieve Greer’s UTV and eventually found a way to transport Stewart, who was unable to walk, to a waiting Natchitoches Regional Medical Center EMS Unit on the road where he was treated for heat related illness.
On Monday July 11, deputies responded to the tragic possible heat-related death of Kaylen Eileen Gehrke, 24, while she was working in Kisatchie National Forest.
Sheriff Stuart Wright commends Dep. Caballero, Lt. Robertson, Lt. Smith and the Greers in their response, the ability to recognize that something was not right at the scene, follow-up on it then show their compassion to others when Mr. Stewart was in need of immediate need of help.