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Chad Cook: 'I thought I was hallucinating and asked (rescuers), 'are you guys real?'

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Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith. Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A Signal Mountain man continues to recover after being lost in the woods for four days. Chad Cook called his mother when his dirt bike broke down. His cell phone died and multiple agencies combed the woods for days before they found cook dehydrated and injured. 

"Those are really good guys who came out there and rescued me," said Chad Cook. " I really thank those guys, I would like to see them and thank them in person and I'm just really thankful they came out there they carried me a mile and a half out of there." 

It's been three weeks since rescue teams carried Chad Cook out a wooded area near Edwards Point.  Cook says his dirt bike broke down around 6 o'clock that Sunday night and the people he was with planned to return with a truck, but they got lost too. After hours of waiting in the dark, he decided to find his own way out. Then those hours turned into days and Chad realized he was in trouble. 

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, I can't believe that happened to me and my pride is hurt a little bit for getting so lost out there that bad," said Cook.    

Chad, who has no wilderness training, followed a creek and walked further into the woods on rough terrain. He used sticks placed together in the shape of arrows, his boots and clothing for rescuers to find.

Rescue teams searched by air and on foot. Officials say it was those items that led them to Chad. 

"I broke a couple of limbs off one tree and I'd lay it right next to the it kind of pointing the way I was going. My head was so foggy and I was so dehydrated, it was a miracle I was making decisions like that," said Cook. " I just kept pushing , I kept thinking about my mom you know I just kept thinking every night like oh she's probably just worried to death about me and so I'd rest for a little bit and I'd get back up and I'd work through the pain and just keep going." 

Chad and his mom, Debby, say it's a miracle he made it out alive. 

"He said he told God this is not where I'm supposed to end my life,  this is not going to be the end," said mom, Debby Watkins. 

Chad says he'll never forget the moment the search and rescue team found him crouched under a large rock.

"I thought I was hallucinating," said Cook. "I thought I was seeing it and asked them I said, "are you guys real?"'

Chad's was severely dehydrated, his feet were badly cut.  As he continues to recover he hopes others will learn from his experience. 

 "I would definitely just watch who you go with and make sure you are extremely prepared," said Cook. " I was prepared and I lost a few things and it just snowballed from there." 

Search and rescue experts say if you ever find yourself in a similar situation you should stay put. Don't hike or bike alone and let someone know before you go where you'll be and when to expect you back. Chad Cook hopes to have the chance to personally thank his rescue team in the future. Cook's family is asking anyone who participated in the rescue to contact them by email at:  Debbyw101@yahoo.com. 

Chad Cook and his family have paid close attention to the active search for McCallie student, Jackson Standefer and his step grandmother, who are missing in the Grand Canyon. Cook says he hopes that search will end in a rescue. 


PREVIOUS STORY: A missing motorcycle rider has been found safe and alive. 

Chad Cook went missing Sunday night after riding with some friends in the Edwards Point area of Signal Mountain. 

Officials say Cook was "alive and well" before being taken to a local hospital for evaluation. According to our news partners at the Times Free Press, say that Cook was found walking on the side of a stream bed and leaving a trail of items for rescuers to find him. 

Stay with Channel 3 as this story develops. 


PREVIOUS STORY:  The search for a missing man riding dirt bikes has entered a second day. 

Officials say they searched a large area with three county agencies and are interviewing witnesses to get a more precise location. 

Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett is still considering this a search and rescue operation. They are requesting Tennessee Highway Patrol's helicopter to assist in the search, but it depends on the Tuesday weather. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Search crews recovered Chad Cook's truck and dirt bike, but the search continues for the 38-year-old. “He and two other males and a female out at 2 o'clock in the morning were riding their dirt bikes,” said Amy Maxwell with the Hamilton County Emergency Services. 

She said the group was riding their dirt bikes near Edwards Point on Signal Mountain when Cook's bike broke down. “The two other gentlemen left Chad to go and retrieve a truck so they could drive back and pick up him and drive back and take him out.”

The truck then got stuck in the mud. The group left the truck, and started walking to find their friend. “They got lost, so they retreated backwards. They never made it back to get Chad. So we cannot locate him.” 

For nearly 10 hours crews walked through the woods searching for the man. They used ATV’s to cover more territory.  The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office used their drone to try to detect movement. “Because that does help, being in sky is different than looking from the ground levels."

The Marion County Sheriff's Department is now in charge of the search efforts. They will pick up the search again Tuesday morning once the storms clear out.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


ORIGINAL STORY: Crews ended their search on Signal Mountain Monday evening for a missing man, due to the threat of severe weather.

Officials said crews searched the Big Fork area for 38-year old Chad Cook. Authorities said family members last heard from Cook at 2:00 a.m. while he was riding dirt bikes with three friends from Edwards Point Road to the Big Fork area.

Officials said Cook's bike broke down and he has not been seen since.

The search started at around 10:30 a.m. and officials said no one was found in the Edwards Point Road area.

The three people riding with Cook were found, along with Cook's pickup truck, dirt bike and T-shirt.

Cook was last seen wearing orange and black leather pants and jacket. 

The search was joint effort by the Marion and Sequatchie Sheriff's Offices with help from Hamilton County.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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