An Australian father following his gut instinct insisted on hiring a helicopter to search for his son and in doing so saved his life. A seventeen-year-old boy is lucky to be alive following being discovered when the chopper his father recruited to search for him spotted the wreckage of his car.
Father, Tony Lethbridge said he feared something terrible had happened to his son when he failed to return home last weekend. Samuel Lethbridge had gone out with friends Saturday night in the neighboring community of Newcastle.
When he never returned home, his father followed up with local authorities and made a missing person report. Mr. Lethbridge indicated the police were under the apprehension that Samuel had run away, but his father insisted his son wasn’t the type of individual to do so.
He 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.”
That’s when he made the decision to employ the use of a helicopter to search for the missing boy.
Mr. Letherbridge indicated, “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.”
The worried father made contact with local helicopter pilot Lee Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell said the father looked worse for wear when he came in and he recalled Mr. Lethbridge saying “I’ve got [$797] on me, will that be enough?”, to which Mr. Mitchell responded that it would be.
The pilot said generally he charges roughly $900 per hour but upon hearing Mr. Lethbridge’s story and concerns, he gave him a discount. Mr. Mitchell is a co-owner of a local aviation company, Skyline Aviation Group, and has over 18 years experience as a professional pilot.
Mr. Mitchell said, “He came in looking anxious and somewhat fatigued and said he needed a helicopter bad.”
Samuel’s uncle joined Mr. Mitchell on the flight and within 15 minutes of searching, the car was spotted. Mr. Mitchell added that although the car was easily spotted from the air, it would not have been discoverable from the road.
Michael Lethbridge, Samuel’s uncle was the first to arrive at the car and indicated he was terrified at the prospect of what he would find. He said he went from being anxious and scared to utterly thrilled when he saw the teen move. He said, “I really didn’t want to go. I was scared of what I’d find. As I got closer I seen Sam’s head move.“
Mr. Mitchell said he has joined in search and rescue operations in the past and they always don’t end well.
Samuel Lethbridge was extracted from the wreckage roughly 30 minutes after being discovered and suffered some serious fractures and currently remains in serious condition. According to officials, he is lucky to be alive.
Samuel’s father, who works as a postal carrier says that the money he spent on the helicopter was well worth it. He said, “It’s priceless. If it’s [$797] I’ve got to pay to get his life, I’m OK with that.”