Upper Burrell man, missing for more than 24 hours, found

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 7:06 p.m.

An Upper Burrell man who had been missing for more than 24 hours was found alive as darkness fell Tuesday night.

Firefighters found Christopher Linkenheimer, 41, around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, not long before they planned to call off their search for the night.

Upper Burrell police Chief Ken Pate said Linkenheimer had last been seen at his Myers Drive home around 6 p.m. Monday. His mother, with whom he lives, reported him missing Tuesday morning.

Pate said Linkenheimer has a history of depression and mental issues.

“It's a life-and-death situation,” Pate said while the search was underway. “We don't think he's capable of taking care of himself right now.”

About 75 volunteers from 11 departments in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties fanned out from a staging area in a parking lot at Penn State New Kensington.

Knowing Linkenheimer had left on foot, they combed a 10-square-mile area around Myers Drive, Route 780, Hartge Road and Milligantown Road using heat-seeking cameras, all-terrain vehicles, search dogs and a helicopter.

With the search area mostly wooded, the canopy hindered progress, Pate said. There was concern heat-seeking cameras would not find Linkenheimer if he had died.

But in the end, as Pate said, it was not bloodhounds or technology that found Linkenheimer; it was “boots on the ground.”

An Upper Burrell firefighter found Linkenheimer in the woods about 300 yards from his home, Upper Burrell fire Chief Bryan Fitch said. Pate said authorities believe he had been there since Monday night.Alcohol was a factor, Pate said.

Linkenheimer was stable but barely conscious, Pate said. Fitch said he had suffered some cuts to the head. He was taken by helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was listed in fair condition Tuesday night.

Authorities tracked Linkenheimer's cellphone in their attempt to find him. There was no record of him making any calls after he was reported missing.

Two “pings” to Linkenheimer's phone indicated it was in the Milligantown Road area. That actually took searchers in the wrong direction, which Pate said afterward is why authorities don't rely exclusively on it.

Linkenheimer had his phone when he was found, Pate said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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