“The boys could hear the helicopter in the dark but they couldn’t see it, and knowing that they were being looked for gave them comfort.”
Tania and her family have a little shack on a large parcel of land east of Ross. Their fifteen-year-old son, Alex, loves exploring the tracks and learning bush survival skills, and knows the area well. However, while out with his cousin late one afternoon Alex caught scent of a kangaroo and wandered off the track. He didn’t go far, but the bush is very dense and, as the sun set they became disorientated. Tania explains that when long shadows appear on the tracks everything looks unfamiliar, and afterwards every part of the bush looks the same in the dark.
When the boys failed to appear for dinner Tania’s husband Jason sent out a search party. There’s no phone signal at the property, and after five hours of driving and walking and calling their names he went to the main road and rang her, saying “I think we should get the police…Alex is missing.”
The police came out to join the search, and the decision was made after an hour that the helicopter would be dispatched with their heat-seeking equipment. While in town buying supplies for the searchers Tania had a phone call saying the helicopter hadn’t been able to find them, and although it was too dark to continue the search that night they would start again at first light in the morning.
By the time the sun had been up for an hour in the morning Tania was worried, but her confidence was buoyed by encouragement of the policemen, and the sound of the helicopter overhead.
Tania laughs, “And then at 9.18 in comes my husband on his quad bike at 100 miles an hour with my son on the back”, and another quad bike right behind him with his cousin…just as Jason had found them on top of a rise, the helicopter had come the other way.”
The family’s relief was palpable. The boys apparently could hear the helicopter in the dark but they couldn’t see it, and knowing that they were being looked for gave them comfort. “They were very tired, very cold, very dirty, but they were safe.”
“I can’t stress enough…to know that the helicopter was there, using the equipment that they had…knowing that it was there gave me the sense of it’s going to be okay. If you’ve got the money to give, don’t let that service not be there.”