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Missing Washington County man found alive after he'd "gone fishing"

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JONESBOROUGH, TN (WJHL) -

Tears from fear of the unknown morphed into tears of joy this afternoon when a Washington County man is found safely after he had been missing for the past two days.

News Channel 11 spoke with law enforcement and family to hear what it took to find a man who had simply "gone fishin'".

Family members of Carroll Higgins called the Washington County Sheriff's Office Saturday when Higgins did not come home after a day of fishing the day before.

"Since he had been here awhile I couldn't understand why he hadn't come back out," said his sister, Linda Waddle.

Two days later, after he went missing, a search and rescue team found him off an island off Jackson Bridge Road and the Nolichucky River.

"It's just fantastic that we get to know a 76-year-old man's fine," said Sheriff Ed Graybeal, "it doesn't get any better than that."

More than 50 emergency responders said bad weather wasn't the only thing that made the search more difficult.

Lt. Daniel Rhudy said, "it's just a rough terrain basically and thick, thick bushes and patches of brush that's the major problem right now"

But they searched high and low, land and water.

"We were just branching out covering, because time is something that is not on his side," said Graybeal.

Higgins has been coming to the area to fish for years, but his family said that he does have early signs of Dementia.

"You know he knows his country good, he knows what he's doing, but to get disoriented, get lost in the woods it's one of the scariest things you'll ever do," said Graybeal.

Rhudy advised, "if they go, they want to go, try and send somebody with them. Really keep up where they went. Maybe get them a cell phone."

Higgins' family said he will never go fishing alone again.

"I'm just so thankful that I've got a brother that I can still fish with," said Waddle.

Higgins was clearly disoriented when he was found and taken to a local hospital to be checked out, but he did tell his sister not to worry, because he had a caught a trout.

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