Footprints the key to successful search - SES Hedland
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Footprints the key to successful search

Monday 18 April 2016 – 11:30 AM

The discovery of fresh footprints led to the successful discovery of a deaf and intellectually disabled man who went missing in the Pilbara during the early evening of Wednesday 6 April.

A land and air search was mounted early on Thursday around the De Grey River mouth, about 120 kilometres north of Port Hedland, the morning after the 34 year old man went missing while on a fishing trip with two friends.

Local Manager of the Hedland State Emergency Service (SES) Unit Keith Squibb said the request for Department of Fire and Emergency Services assistance came through from South Hedland Police around 9pm on Wednesday.

“Searchers gathered at first light the next morning,” Keith said.

“The party included six Hedland SES Unit volunteers, four of whom were on the ground and two were conducting an air search from the search helicopter, as well as local Police and two Indigenous trackers.

“We had concerns for the missing man as he was not familiar with that part of the De Grey catchment area, temperatures were high at around 38 degrees, and the terrain was undulating spinifex country – typical of the Pilbara but not providing much shelter from the sun.

“On top of that he didn’t have any food or water with him and he wouldn’t have been able to hear us calling out to him.”

Originally the search area was 10 square kilometres around the mouth of the river, and being fairly remote it took the search party around an hour and a half to even reach the area.

“Fortunately, once the footprints were found we were able to narrow down the search area and we located the man alive and well within about 45 minutes,” said Keith.

“It was a really positive result for everyone involved.”

Pilbara Superintendent John Newman commended the searchers for their approach.

“This was a real team effort combining the expertise of the WA Police, who are the hazard management authority, along with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ SES volunteers and Indigenous trackers,” John said.

“It is great to see their efforts rewarded with a successful outcome.”

The man was thought to be dehydrated but otherwise in good physical condition and was taken for a medical check-up.

 Article courtesy of DFES News

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