Crime & Public Safety

She heard a moan in the Hilton Head woods. What happened next saved a man’s life

Here’s why missing Hilton Head Plantation man was so hard to find

Blair Streitenberger, a Hilton Head Plantation resident who helped lead rescuers to missing man James Holub, shows where Holub was found on Saturday morning after having been lost in a deeply wooded area of the plantation for a day-and-a-half.
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Blair Streitenberger, a Hilton Head Plantation resident who helped lead rescuers to missing man James Holub, shows where Holub was found on Saturday morning after having been lost in a deeply wooded area of the plantation for a day-and-a-half.

It was a normal Saturday morning for one Hilton Head Island family until it turned into a mission to save a man’s life.

Barbara Streitenberger, her husband, Jeff, and their son Blair helped with the search that found James Holub, 76, alive Saturday in the Whooping Crane Pond Conservancy. He had been missing since Thursday evening. An earlier search by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office had been called off Friday night.

Holub was taken to Hilton Head Hospital and is still there, but was moved from the intensive care unit to primary care early Monday morning.

Streitenberger and her husband, both retired teachers, have lived in Hilton Head for 26 years, 23 of them on Horseman Lane in Hilton Head Plantation. Most days, they like to sit on their back deck to watch and listen to birds.

That’s what they were doing Saturday morning around 7:30 when Streitenberger heard a moaning sound that sent a jolt through her body.

“I sat down on the couch and immediately jumped up because I heard the sound,” she said. “It wasn’t like anything I ever heard.”

She ran to the edge of the property toward the woods and heard the moans again.

Jeff and Blair joined her.

She said the family had been keeping up with news on the search for Holub, watching helicopters fly over the area and listening at the edge of the woods each night.

At first, she didn’t connect the moaning sound to the search.

“We thought it could be a duck, but my son said, ‘That sounds human,’ “ she said.

“I had a gut feeling, and I knew it wasn’t a normal sound,” she said.

She called the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office while her husband called the Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners’ Association.

The family put on long pants and shirts and prepared to go into the woods. But the POA officers were on the scene within five minutes and sheriff’s deputies arrived a little later.

“We were trying to pinpoint where the sound was coming from,” she said. “At one point, I could hear (Holub) say ‘please help,’ and by then I knew, it was him.”

Jeff and Blair went with the officers into the woods to help with the search. The team eventually found Holub near a large pine tree, waving a branch.

“From the time I heard the first sound to when they found him was probably a couple hours,” she said. “Since the hurricane in October 2016, so many pine trees went down that the woods are so much thicker. You can see where someone would get lost. I wouldn’t go out there by myself.”

Streitenberger is glad she was able to help.

“I’m so thankful I happened to walk out on that deck,” she said. “I believe in divine intervention, and I believe I was placed there.”

Peter Kristian, Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners’ Association general manager, told The Island Packet on Tuesday that Holub’s family said he is still recovering and, if he continues making good progress, may be released from the hospital within the next few days.

Kristian said there is no information yet on how Holub came to be lost. He said the association and Holub’s family are more concerned right now with his recovery.

Holub was reported missing by his family Thursday evening when he didn’t return home. Law enforcement from across the area helped in searches Thursday and Friday.

Lana Ferguson has covered news of all sorts for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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