When his 17 year-old son Samuel failed to come home one night, Australian father Tony Lethbridge immediately had a very bad feeling.
The teenager had gone out driving to meet his girlfriend in a nearby town, but the boy never made it there. When nobody had heard from Samuel in 24 hours, his family went into panic mode. Though they called the police, the family was told to simply go home and wait.
“They told us that he might have run away, he could have done this or he could have done that, and we just said, ‘It’s out of character; it’s not him,’” Tony explained.
Tony could not shake the feeling that his son had been in a car crash and was laying injured somewhere. He remembered another driver who had crashed in the same area as Samuel and died there because he was not found for five days.
“That was in my head, so I just thought, ‘Bugger this, I’m not going to sit around and wait,’” Tony said. “With the way the bush is there, if a car goes in you’re not going to see it. The only way you’ll see it is from the air. And that’s what we did.”
“I said to my wife, ‘I’m not going to wait any longer. I’m going to hire a helicopter and go looking for him,’” he continued.
Tony was able to put together $1,000 AUD (approximately $800 USD) to hire a helicopter from Skyline Aviation Group. Michael Lethbridge, Samuel’s uncle, went alone in the helicopter to look for the boy. Within ten minutes, he spotted Samuel’s car, and sure enough, Tony had been right all along. Samuel had crashed and had been lying in the wreck for nearly 30 hours before being found, suffering dehydration and critical injuries.
Emergency services cut Samuel out of the car and rushed him to the hospital. Though he remains in intensive care, he is expected to make a full recovery.