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Sheriff: Man missing in Croatan National Forest is in ‘rough shape’

Joshua Clauson emerged Sunday after spending eight days lost in the woods without food and little water.
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A man who police say spent eight days lost in the Croatan National Forest and sparked a nearly week-long search is recovering at Carteret Health Care and is expected to be just fine.

20-year-old Joshua Clauson walked into the forest last Saturday morning around 10am with his brother-in-law. At some point, police say, the duo separated and only his brother-in-law emerged.

After a five-day search that ended late last week after all leads were exhausted, according to Sheriff Asa Buck, Clauson emerged from the forest Sunday with significant bug bites and scratches and asked the nearest neighbor for help.

“Josh is in fairly rough shape,” said Buck. “As you can imagine, having been out in the in the woods and in the elements for that period of time without proper nutrition, and lack of adequate clothing to deal with the elements for being out there for that period of time.”

Clauson was able to exit the woods around Rams Horn Road, the same road Clauson’s brother-in-law exited on to last week, seven hours after they both entered the forest at the back of their Newport mobile home park.

Clauson was transported to Carteret Health Care Sunday with malnourishment and dehydration, but is expected to recover, according to deputies.

It’s a good ending to a grueling nearly week-long search for crews through the thick wooded area. Neighbors familiar with the area also lent a hand.

“We follow the buddy system in the woods,” said Sherry Hopkins, who spent last week aiding in the search with her horse, Apache. “You have to, because I’ve seen a few bear out there and I think buddies need to stay together. I’m just glad he’s okay.”

The investigation continues, however, to find out what happened during Clauson’s walk through the woods gone wrong. Buck said detectives attempted to question Clauson Sunday and Monday but he was not up to giving a fuller picture.

“Our detectives weren’t really able to glean a whole lot from him in their conversations with him,” said Buck “We would like to be able to speak with him further just to get his recollections and his version of how the events transpired.”

Deputies said it’s not clear when Clauson will be discharged from the hospital.

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