An elderly man has been airlifted to hospital after spending the night in his car in an isolated part of Co Clare, writes Patrick Flynn.
The 71-year-old is understood to have become disoriented and lost his way while driving home last night from Kilrush to Kilmurry McMahon.
The alarm was raised at around 9.30pm when the pensioner made contact with gardaí using his mobile phone. However, the man was unable to tell gardaí where he was and with temperatures continuing to drop below freezing, a search was mounted.
It is understood the man took a wrong turn and found himself in a cul-de-sac. His car is believed to have gotten stuck in a ditch as he tried to reverse back to the road.
The Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard was mobilised to assist gardaí with a land search while the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, was also tasked.
While the Coast Guard remained in contact via mobile phone, the confused man was still unable to tell them where he was.
Coast Guard volunteers discharged flares and asked the man each time whether he could see them from his location. Efforts to triangulate ’s location using the flares were unsuccessful however.
As the search continued into the early hours of the morning, at around 3.30am rescuers lost contact with the man after his mobile phone battery died.
Coast Guard and garda mobile patrols searched a massive network of country roads and laneways. The search continued until around 4am, however, with no sign of the man or his car the operation was stood down until first light.
At around 9.00am today, after resuming their search, the crew of Rescue 115 located a car near Labasheeda about 15kms from the man’s home.
The helicopter landed in a field to investigate a car that matched the description of the one they had been looking for. The missing man was found in the vehicle at the scene.
After being assessed by the Coast Guard paramedic, the man was flown to University Hospital Limerick for treatment. He is said to be in ‘good shape’ despite spending the night in freezing temperatures.
Once confirmed that the man had been located, the search was stood down at around 9.30am.