Texts help locate lost woman


A woman who was lost in dense bush on her farm for almost six hours sent text messages to Search and Rescue crew and left clues to help lead them to her location.

The woman, in her 50s, who told the Northern Advocate she wanted to remain anonymous, was searching for bulls that had escaped from a paddock and into dense bush in the pouring rain and gale-force winds on Monday at 1.30pm.

She became disoriented in the bush and, despite poor cellphone coverage, she was able to call 111 and raise the alarm with police.

Search and Rescue co-ordinator constable Sue Gricott said it was the second Search and Rescue operation in the rural area of Duddy Rd, Omanaia in a week.

She said the woman was lucky she was found safe and well.

"The land is quite hilly, with large scrubs and dense bush. The visibility was poor and it is easy to see how she became disoriented."

Three teams of three Search and Rescue squad members tracked the woman, who was able to send text messages to describe her location.

Ms Gricott said the woman's husband joined the Search and Rescue operation and her teenage son waited anxiously at home.

"The cellphone was useful in that she could describe where she was, what she was wearing, where she had tied her horse up, and we could tell her to leave clues for us like broken branches and arrows in the ground," Ms Gricott said.

Federated Farmers Northland president Roger Ludbrook said it was fortunate the woman had thought to take a cellphone with her.

"I think this farmer was so concerned about her stock that they became her sole focus. That explains why she rushed out into foul weather where she became disoriented," he said.

"Where stock welfare is concerned logic can go right out the door. That said at least she had the presence of mind to grab a cellphone, which was instrumental to her rescue."

Mr Ludbrook said Federated Farmers always recommends farmers let someone know where they intend to work, and what time to expect them home.

"Sometimes, just taking a deep breath or talking over your intentions with a spouse or farm worker, it can make you rethink things," he said.

Ms Gricott said the woman was cold when rescuers reached her just after 7pm and grateful for all the crews' hard work to reach her.

Volunteer Search and Rescue crews were called from Far North and Whangarei and travelled to the location in the terrible conditions, however, they were not needed on arrival as the woman had been reached.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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