A local couple who have spent a lifetime together have been reunited after a harrowing experience that separated them on Sunday, October 11.
Dale and Chris Fairchild realized the miraculous power of prayer, as well as the benefits of modern technology during their frightening ordeal.
During their 65 years as husband and wife, which began in South Africa, nothing could have prepared them for the terror they would experience so close to home.
The Fairchilds live on 18 acres and they dearly love the land and the abundant wildlife that lives there. Over the years, they have spent many happy hours exploring and going for leisurely strolls.
On Sunday, Chris decided she would go on an excursion by herself and so she set out in the late afternoon. Her original plan was to check on whether a tractor or mower could cross over the dry riverbed at the foot of their yard.
Being a nature lover, Chris didn’t stop at the end of the yard, but rather, decided to take in the beauty of the autumn season by exploring further onto their land.
Soon it grew dark and Chris discovered she was hopelessly lost. She couldn’t see the house to get her bearings and so she continued to walk for hours.
Back at the house, Dale grew worried as he knew something was wrong when Chris failed to return. He took a flashlight and began to search for her.
He walked quite a while with no sign of Chris anywhere. However, soon he would find he had some serious problems of his own, when his leg gave out and he fell to the ground.
Unable to get back to his feet and walk, Dale commenced to crawling on his hands and knees all the way back to the house, determined to get some help to find his beloved bride.
He relates that it was a grueling journey, as he had managed to travel quite a distance from the house.
He describes the long crawl home this way, “It was a long way and at times I just lay flat on the ground for a time.
“Eventually I got home but could not stand up until I reached the door of our garage and was able to pull myself up with the aid of a metal bar.”
After he was able to stand, he immediately called the sheriff’s department to report Chris was missing.
Meanwhile, as it grew later, the temperature dropped, as it does in mid-October after dark, and Chris continued to walk and pray, hoping to find her way home.
“I just kept on walking and walking and walking,” she said. “By the time I really found out where I thought I was, I was a really long way.”
Dale and Chris are faithful, lifelong Christians and members of the Kingsville Seventh-day Adventist Church, and on this night they were both storming Heaven for some much-needed help.
Soon after Dale’s frantic call to the sheriff, Major Kevin Tieman with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the Fairchild’s rural home.
He was concerned also, with Chris being 93 years old and lost in the dark, cold night.
“I was praying and worrying,” Dale said, as it was nearing midnight. He related that Major Tieman took a flashlight and briefly searched for Chris, with no luck.
Major Thieman, joined by others from the Sheriff’s Office, launched a drone with the ability to see things they could not from its vantage point in the air in the dark.
After the launch, Dale reports, from liftoff to finding Chris in the field took Major Tieman four minutes.
“Without that drone, I don’t know how long it would have taken,” Dale said.
When they found Chris, she was thankfully uninjured, but very worried and tired. The deputies transported Chris back to the house where Dale was anxiously waiting.
However, a reunion between husband and wife would have to wait, as the medical personnel on scene gave Chris a good check-up.
“For quite a while I couldn’t even get to Chris, as the sheriff and a medical technician occupied her attention with questions about her physical condition,” Dale explained. “They even had a fire engine in our driveway.”
Once Chris was cleared by EMS personnel, she and Dale were finally free to embrace, in what was a long hug, each thankful the other was alright and grateful their prayers had been answered.
“It was a delayed but very happy reunion,” Dale said. “A miracle.”
Their son David came from Shawnee, Kansas and spent the rest of the night with them.
“We have had considerable advice about not going for walks alone,” Dale said.
“Chris did not want to go to the hospital for a check-up, so eventually everybody went home and we got into the house and talked a while and then got to bed around 1 a.m.”
In the end, the story has a happy ending, and both Dale and Chris are grateful for the mercy and caring of Almighty God.
“We want to express our appreciation to all the sheriff’s deputies and technicians and the neighbors who stayed around to keep us assured as we waited,” Dale added.