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The Plot Was Marked 'Searched.' Only the Half Without the Body Was

Coroner finds fault in search for Australia's Darrell Simon
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2019 10:40 AM CST
A mobile phone displays a user's travels using Google Maps in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Newser) – For 18 months, family and friends wondered what had happened to Darrell Simon. The 46-year-old Australian had vanished after setting out from his girlfriend's home, 50 miles west of Brisbane, on a bike ride in November 2014, and the delay in locating him led some to suspect he died by foul play, perhaps linked to a dispute over money, reports the BBC. Simon had, in fact, taken his own life on his own property in Laidley Creek West due to financial stress, though State Emergency Service crews, given a Google Maps printout showing incorrect property boundaries, searched only half of the rural plot, according to a coroner's report issued after Simon's remains were discovered by the property's new owners, per News.com.au. After Simon's bike turned up in a dam amid a period of drought, his body was located 75 yards away beneath a tree in May 2016.

The delay in finding Simon "compounded the grief felt by his family and friends," writes Queensland Deputy State Coroner John Lock, adding "clearly defamatory and untruthful speculation" about Simon's death might also have been avoided had police acted on correct information. Vegetation may have hid Simon's body even if searchers got close, but "the fact the ground search was conducted over only half the property was very regretful and should not have happened." Per the Australian, Simon's girlfriend and father described his property as containing no internal fences, thus an incomplete one running down the middle came to be viewed as a boundary line. The report—noting police were later given a "far superior" map of the property, which remained marked as "searched"—recommends high-resolution mapping and GPS systems be used in future searches. (Read more Australia stories.)

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