Missing Delaware biker found 65 miles from trail

April 14, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Willie Woolford arrived in Annapolis Sunday from Delaware intending to enjoy a scenic ride along the 14-mile B&A bike trail. One day later, he had traveled more than 60 miles off course.

At 1 p.m. yesterday, state police found Mr. Woolford, 34, who is a mildly retarded epileptic, at the Edgewood exchange on Interstate 95 in Harford County -- 65 miles from where the trail begins in Annapolis.

"He was just peddling along," said state police Sgt. William King. "He really had no idea where he was going."

He appeared to be unharmed.

Mr. Woolford's journey began at 11 a.m. Sunday, when he set off with a dozen friends who planned to ride the B&A Bike Trail from Annapolis to Glen Burnie and back again.

About 2 p.m., several people in the group noticed that he was missing but thought he had just ridden ahead. By 7 p.m., when the group had ridden to Glen Burnie and back again to Annapolis, its members called police.

Dozens of Anne Arundel County police officers, park rangers and a state police helicopter combed the area, questioning people along the trail. By 10 p.m. they hadn't found a trace of Mr. Woolford and called off the search.

Police, concerned about Mr. Woolford's well-being during Sunday night's cold temperatures, gave a description of him to television reporters who broadcast it on the news.

A motorist on I-95 spotted him near exit 78 and called police from his car phone. Mr. Woolford was reunited with his family at the Anne Arundel County Police Department's Eastern District station.

"I tried to keep up with everyone," he told his sister, Calmetta Brinkley. He said he and an elderly man had gotten separated from the group when the pair stopped to rest.

"He told me he would be all right and just to go on," Mr. Woolford said.

Although it was unclear exactly where Mr. Woolford went, police said he was seen at the Transit Truck Stop on Veterans Highway in Millersville at 12:30 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m. near a fast-food restaurant a short distance away.

Mr. Woolford said he slept outside a video rental store Sunday night. When he awoke yesterday morning, someone -- he couldn't remember who -- called him a taxi, which he rode through the Harbor Tunnel and part of the way up I-95.

"I didn't know where I was," he said.

Mrs. Brinkley said her brother, who works at a Dover-area packaging plant, often rides his bike around their neighborhood in the Dover suburbs. She said he had taken one short bicycle tour before Sunday's trek.

"His bicycle is his main mode of transportation to and from work, but we were surprised to hear he had gotten so far," she said.

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