Family relieved after missing disabled woman found safe in Beech Island

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email
Tonya Wilds

Police are searching for Tonya Wilds in the Beech Island area. (WRDW-TV / Jan. 10, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

BEECH ISLAND, S.C. -- It's the end a Beech Island family was praying for. A missing disabled woman found safe and sound, not far from her home after being out in the cold and rain for nearly 24 hours.

It was a night and day search through the woods and in the rain, but Tonya Wilds has finally been reunited with her family.

"She's doing great. She's doing fine. She was wet, but she's dry now, she's doing great," said her sister, Sylvia Mitchell.

The 44-year-old diabetic and disabled woman walked out of the home on Tuesday when no one was looking and was nowhere to be found.

"We had units searching for her all night long and what it boiled down to was a citizen ended up finding her for us," Aiken County Sheriff's Captain Troy Elwell said.

A nearby man looked outside and saw Tonya in his yard, barefoot and scared. Elwell said she was found about 650 yards from her residence.

"She says she don't remember nothing. She don't remember walking out of here and don't really remember nothing she done," Mitchell said. "She just said she got lost and couldn't find her way back."

Tonya was recently released from the hospital after suffering a diabetic coma. Her family says Tonya's doctors never thought she would wake up, but she did. Because of the coma, though, Tonya's brain operates on the level of a small child.

"It was a miracle. I put her in God's hands and he brought her back to us," said Norma Moxley, Tonya's mother.

Now her family wants to thank all the people who helped bring Tonya home.

"I just want to thank Aiken County and they done a great job and all the deputies and all the people in the public that came up and asked if there's anything else they could do," Mitchell said. "I mean I just thank God that she's home and thank everybody for helping us get her home."

Tonya went missing Tuesday before noon and she was found Wednesday at 11 a.m. The man spotted her, called 911 and Sheriff Michael Hunt rushed over to pick her up. Within minutes, she was back with her family.

Tonya is lucky. EMS crews checked on her and said she looked to be just fine. She went almost two days without any insulin or other medications.


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