Local businessman helps in missing persons search, locates mother and son lost in woods

SOPHIA, WV (WOAY) – Last Sunday, some caring people quit what they were doing to help find a mother and her son who were lost in an ATV park in Sophia.

Gary Mills, who owns Mills Floor Covering and Epoxy in Sophia, was working late on a job Sunday night when, just before midnight, he got a call from a state trooper out of Beckley.

“He said, well, I need I need some help. And you’re the only one I know to call,'” Mills said.

Police needed help locating a 9-year-old boy and his mom who were lost in the woods at Burning Rock Off-Road Park in Sophia, which has over 100 miles of trails.

As soon as he got the call, Gary Mills shut the job down and headed home to help.

“When he told me it was a nine-year-old kid, the whole way from Princeton back to Sophia all I could think about was my kid or my grandbabies. There was no way that I was not going to quit until we found the little boy and his mom,” Mills said.

By the time the search began in burning rock, Gary’s oldest son, Travis, had shown up to help. Travis happened to know the area like the back of his hand and was able to interpret the only clue.

“We had one text from the mom. She had 1% on her phone before her phone died. And she sent a picture of a stake that said what trail they were near. So we showed that to Travis, and he knew where it was at. So he took us straight to it,” Mills said.

Once there, they began shouting and listening for a response. After a few attempts at following the sounds, the responses rang clearer. They knew they were getting close.

“We saw this little four-wheeler stuck in the mud hole with two helmets on it,” Mills said.

It wasn’t long after that when the search party located the missing riders. They were able to get the missing people water and warmth and towed the stuck ATV out of the woods.

Helping people in need is something that Mills tries to nurture in his community.

“We just try to do the right things, man. I look at it like that. That very well could have been my family,” he said. I would always want somebody to come running to me or mine if we were in need. If you want that to happen, you’ve got to do it for others.”

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