Missing Teen Found After Father Hires Helicopter

Hunch may have saved Australian's life
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2018 2:44 AM CST
Updated Jan 16, 2018 6:11 AM CST
This Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, photo taken and provided by Michael Lethbridge shows the helicopter used in the search of a teenager who spent 30 hours trapped in a car wreck in Australian woods, at Lake...   (Michael Lethbridge via AP)
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(Newser) – The father of a teenager who spent 30 hours trapped in a car wreck in Australian woods says he followed his intuition by hiring a helicopter that found his seriously injured son. Samuel Lethbridge, 17, remained in a hospital in serious condition with multiple fractures two days after the crash. His father, Tony Lethbridge, says he suspected his son may have been in a car wreck when he did not return by Sunday night to the family home at Lake Macquarie, after a Saturday night out with friends in Sydney, 80 miles to the south. The father says he hired a helicopter on Monday morning and the car was spotted in scrub off a highway 12 miles from home, the AP reports. Emergency services cut the boy from the wreck 30 hours after the accident.

"Everybody was saying: He's probably run away and all that kind of stuff. That's just not Samuel," Tony Lethbridge says. The father recalled that a victim of an earlier crash in the area had died after not being found within five days. "I wasn't going to let that happen," he says. Lee Mitchell, the helicopter pilot and part-owner of Skyline Aviation Group at Lake Macquarie, says he discounted his usual helicopter hire rate of 1,200 Australian dollars ($956) an hour when the father explained his plight and said 'I've got A$1,000 ($797) on me, will that be enough?' The car was spotted within 15 minutes of flight, about 20 yards off the road, Mitchell says. "It was fairly easy to spot from the air. It would've been near impossible to see from the road because it was well below the road level," Mitchell says.


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