Dad Found Missing Son 12-Miles Away by Hiring Helicopter

Tony Lethbridge of New South Wales, Australia, knew something was wrong when his son did not call, return text messages or check in with him any form.  Tony's son, 17-year-old Samuel had driven off the previous night to meet some friends.  Samuel had never failed to return home.  This night, he was unable to return.  Tony immediately went to the police who informed him that they suspect his son had run away and that this type of thing happens all of the time.

Tony knew his son and knew this wasn't the case.  With all of the money he could muster up, only $700, he went to a nearby helicopter chartering service and asked for their help in searching for his son.  The helicopter service charges typically significantly more than $700 for a flight, but after hearing the mission, they were more than OK with giving the father a discount.

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Tony said that he understood the police's point of view and he knows they have to deal with alarmed parents thinking the worst had fallen upon their children when in fact they had just run away.  That's why he knew he had to do something, because unlike the police, Tony knows his kid and his behavior.

The father's hunch paid off.  His son, Samuel, was found in a mangled car, far below road level only 12 miles from his home near Lake Macquarie.  Had an aircraft not been used for the search it is likely that Samuel would never have been found as the car was far too below the street line.

It had been over 30 hours since Samuel's crash, but rescuers managed to get on scene and use the jaws of life to cut him from the wreckage.  Samuel received several broken bones and is listed in serious condition at the local hospital.

Samuel's uncle was the first one out of the helicopter, and he said he feared the worst.   He approached slowly.  He could see Samuel moving as he slowly got closer.  He said that he went from a state of terrified to ecstatic in an instant.

The helicopter pilot, Lee Mitchell, said that even he was overwhelmed by the positive outcome of the search and subsequent rescue.  He noted that over the years he has done many search and rescue missions, but that many do not have positive outcomes.

It is not common for Australians to have to pay out-of-pocket for search and rescue operations.  Regardless, Tony says he can't complain because the measly $700 it took to save his son's life was worth every penny.