Aussie dad hires helicopter to find injured son after hunch

Aussie dad hires helicopter to find injured son after hunch
Photo taken and provided by Michael Lethbridge of emergency services officers yesterday working to cut his nephew Samuel Lethbridge, 17, from the wreck of his car off the Pacific Highway south of Swansea in New South Wales state, Australia. Pic: Michael Lethbridge via AP

The father of a teenager who spent 30 hours trapped in a car wreck in Australian woods said he had followed his intuition by hiring the helicopter that found his seriously injured son.

Samuel Lethbridge, 17, remained in intensive care in a hospital with multiple fractures two days after the crash.

Tony Lethbridge said he suspected his son may have been in a car wreck when he did not return by Sunday morning to the family home at Lake Macquarie, after a Saturday night out with friends in the nearby city of Newcastle.

The teen had dropped off a friend about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from home early on Sunday morning before he vanished, the father said.

The 51-year-old father-of-three hired a helicopter on Monday morning and the car was spotted in scrub off a highway 20 kilometres (12 miles) from home.

Emergency services cut the boy from the wreck 30 hours after the accident, the father said.

"When I saw the police, they thought he'd run away. I said that's not Samuel. When he doesn't show up or phone, something's seriously wrong," Tony Lethbridge told the AP.

"I understand that they've got a lot to do and they hear this every day, but I took matters into my own hands and was thinking all night that tomorrow morning, I'm just going to get a helicopter and go looking for him because we're running out of time - it's been long enough," he added.

Lee Mitchell, pilot and part-owner of Skyline Aviation Group at Lake Macquarie, said he discounted his usual helicopter hire rate of 1,200 Australian dollars ($956) an hour when the father explained his plight.

"He came in looking anxious and somewhat fatigued and said he needed a helicopter bad," Mr Mitchell said.

While Australians rarely pay for search and rescue operations, Tony Lethbridge, who works in a mail sorting room of the national postal service, has no complaints.

"It's priceless. If it's (Australian dollars) $1,000 I've got to pay to get his life, I'm OK with that," the father said.

- AP and Digital desk

More in this Section

Body of ex-Army officer to be flown from Turkey to UKBody of ex-Army officer to be flown from Turkey to UK

Students from mainland China flee Hong Kong after more unrestStudents from mainland China flee Hong Kong after more unrest

Speed limit on Dutch motorways cut in bid to reduce pollutionSpeed limit on Dutch motorways cut in bid to reduce pollution

Israeli strikes kill more militants in Gaza as rocket fire resumesIsraeli strikes kill more militants in Gaza as rocket fire resumes


Lifestyle

Avoid products high in sugar and caffeine, says Helen O’CallaghanEnergy drinks not fit for kids

The staff of Cork Film Festival tell Richard Fitzpatrick about some of their personal recommendations on what to seeInsider tips: Those in the know pick their highlights of the Cork Film Festival

The Cork Film Festival is known for championing short films. We chat to six emerging film-makers who are showing their work over the next few daysCork Film Festival: Short and sweet does the trick

Newsreels from the independence era, and various short films, give a glimpse of earlier eras on Leeside, writes Marjorie BrennanCork Film Festival: Reeling in the years by the Lee

More From The Irish Examiner