Vernon County sheriff enlists several agencies to find missing 79-year-old rural Stoddard man

Rescue teams search for nearly 5.5 hours until K9 and handler find the man safe in woods near his home

VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) – The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office and several other agencies deployed search and rescue teams, an airplane, ATVs, a drone and a K9 bloodhound Tuesday to locate a 79-year-old rural Stoddard, Wis., man who was last seen more than 24 hours before.

Handler Neil Funk and K9 Wrigley found Hugo Victor Klien in a wooded area near his home after a nearly 5.5-hour search, according to a Vernon County Sheriff’s news release.

The Vernon County 911 Dispatch Center received a call from Bethel Home Services in Viroqua at about 11:30 Tuesday reporting that Klien was missing and had last been seen in his home at about 6 a.m. Monday.

Vernon County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lucas Sellers went to the scene and became incident commander. Dispatch sent representatives from the following agencies to assist with the search and rescue: Coon Valley Fire Department and First Responders, Vernon County and Crawford County Emergency Management for their drone services, Stoddard/Bergen Fire Department, Genoa Fire Department, Viroqua Fire Department, Wisconsin DNR for its ATV/UTV and airplane, Wisconsin State Patrol for its airplane, Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance, town patrolman from Hamburg and Bergen, and Tri-State Search and Rescue, from Viroqua.

The agencies did grid searches in the area surrounding Klien’s home for nearly 5.5 hours before K9 Wrigley and handler Funk found him.

The Tri-State Ambulance crew examined him for minor injuries and took him to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse for evaluation.

Sheriff John Spears lauded 911 dispatchers and Sellers for their quick thinking, decision making and marshaling resources to find Klien before darkness set in.

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