Missing Buchanan Co. man found alive after being trapped in crashed vehicle for almost 24 hours


BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — A man that was reported missing was miraculously found alive after he had been trapped in his crashed vehicle for almost a full 24 hours on Elkins Branch Road.

According to a release from the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Richard Chafin, 67, was reported missing by family members Monday night.

Family told deputies Chafin had never come back from what was supposed to be a quick trip to Grundy.

Chafin had reportedly left at 2:00 p.m. from Old Lester’s Fork Road.

Family and friends had searched the area for him before contacting authorities.

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Virginia State Police to coordinate a search with a Med-Flight helicopter.

The release says that authorities searched the route that Chafin would have typically taken to Grundy, and they eventually found a spot at Elkins Branch Mountain where there looked to be fresh scrape marks and vehicle debris.

The debris and scrapes led towards an embankment off the road. 

After following the scrapes, Chafin’s vehicle was found resting on its roof, with Chafin alive inside.

The vehicle was around 200 yards from the road and under trees, downhill from the road. It was not visible from the street.

During the rescue, rappelling ropes, cables and wenches and a Stokes Basket was used to get Chafin out and back to the road.

Members from Grundy Fire Department, Slate Creek Fire Department, Russell Prater Fire and Rescue and Rescue 33 Ambulance Service all responded to help in the rescue.

Chafin was check on-scene and found to have sustained minor injuries. He was taken by Med Flight to Bristol Regional Medical Center for further treatment and as a precaution.

“Its truly a blessing that Chafin was found alive after nearly 24 hours trapped in his crashed vehicle. God was watching over him and protecting him,” said Buchanan County Sheriff Ray Foster. “I want to thank all those who responded in this rescue operation.”

Virginia State Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.

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