Team leader tells of hard search

Fiona Wills, 77, went missing in December 2014.
Fiona Wills, 77, went missing in December 2014.

One of Hawke's Bay's most experienced search and rescue trackers has described the difficulty in finding an elderly Napier woman who went missing while feeding her chickens.

Fiona Wills disappeared while walking to a nearby chicken coop on her Te Pohue farm in December 2014.

The 77-year-old has never been found despite weeks of extensive searches.

Chairman of the Hawke's Bay Search and Rescue Committee, Michael Hawthorne, has told a coroner's hearing he has 33 years' experience in searching.

He said his search team wasn't able to distinguish any signs of Fiona Wills walking along a road, because the area had been contaminated by the family using quad bikes.

Mr Hawthorne said everything had drawn a blank.

He told the hearing yesterday that there were about nine trained search and rescue volunteers who responded to the priority one call-out message sent out.

So the response of nine volunteers was what they got and what they had

to work with, for an operation in the middle of the night two weeks before Christmas.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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