Volunteers reflect on the rescue of missing Shelby County woman

Pelham first responders met with Lisa Holman as she recovers from car crash injuries at UAB Hospital. (Stephen Quinn |

Members of Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea meet every Sunday night for Bible study, but this Sunday's meeting was a little different as it came on the heels of members of the church volunteering to help find Lisa Holman earlier that morning.

Anthony Berryman was one of the volunteers on Sunday. He said he and other members of the community heard the call for volunteers in the search. Roughly 80 to 100 volunteers were expected, but more than 500 showed up at Chelsea High School to look for their neighbor.

"God calls us to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and that's what we were," Berryman said.

Once volunteers arrived to the site, they were divided into crews of 20. Berryman's group was the first one to be sent out. Their search site was near the site where Holman's car was found Saturday morning.

"Honestly, I didn't think there was any way anybody could be there," Berryman said. "In my mind, it was something we were just going to eliminate the possibility of Lisa being there."

The crew searched high and low, constantly calling out Holman's name but to no avail. That all changed some time later.

"One gentleman that was with me was yelling her name fairly regularly and about the time that I thought 'Well, we're not going to find anyone,'" Berryman said. "We heard her, heard her yell. She was calling out, 'I'm here, here I am. As soon as we heard that, we took off running up the hill. We really didn't know what we were going to find, and when I got about 20 yards from her, there she was."

Berryman said when they found her, she was confused and showed visible signs of being out in the woods for a few days, but she was extremely grateful for the volunteers who found her. Berryman said the whole experience made him and others realize how lucky they are to live in such a tight-knit community. He said that one church member gave Holman his shoes to wear since she did not have any.

"It was amazing what God did today," Berryman said. "I'm just grateful to be part of it. God said love with all your heart, mind, soul and strength in the first commandment, and the second is love your neighbor, and Lisa is our neighbor, and 521 people showed up as Lisa's neighbor to help her out."

After Holman was found, her family released the following statement.

"Needless to say, the last two days have been very emotional for our family; Lisa’s rescue Sunday morning was definitely an answered prayer. Amazingly, she has suffered only a few broken bones and other minor injuries as a result of the accident. Her ability to withstand these injuries, the weather conditions, and the length of time in the woods is a testament to her resiliency.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the coordinated effort provided by the Pelham Police Department, Pelham Fire Department, and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. They led this rescue mission not only with determined tenacity, but also with true compassion. They kept the family comforted and well informed while organizing the rescue efforts. We would also like to thank the following agencies who assisted in the search: Shelby County EMA, Chelsea Fire Department, Childersburg Rescue Squad, Alexander City Rescue Squad, Regional Paramedic Service, SAR K9’s of Alabama, the American Red Cross, and Red Mountain Search Dog Association.

We would like to thank the literally hundreds of volunteers who offered their assistance throughout Saturday and Sunday. It was a team of these volunteers that finally reached Lisa on Sunday morning. Chelsea High School was instrumental in providing a staging area and bus transportation for the volunteers beginning at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. In addition to those who were able to physically show up, there were literally thousands of others lifting the entire effort up through prayer. We are grateful to be part of a close-knit community that never hesitated when their assistance was needed."

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