Trapped in agonising pain for 30 hours
A TEENAGER spent a painful 30 hours trapped in his crashed car in bushland until he was rescued by his father who hired a helicopter to find him.
When Samuel Lethbridge, 17, didn’t arrive at a friend’s home on Sunday — and when he failed to reply to messages — his family immediately feared the worst.
As his sister Megan posted frantic messages on social media asking for sightings, their father Tony Lethbridge knew something was wrong and followed his gut instinct. And that ultimately saved his son’s life.
An accident happened there five years ago
The teenager was reported missing to police but by yesterday morning Mr Lethbridge decided to hire a chopper to find his son. And he knew exactly where to direct them to search.
“An accident happened there about five years ago … It stuck in my mind … I thought, ‘I can’t leave him out there without looking,” he told 7 News.
He knew his son would not have run away. “His mates were telling us he was a bit tired when he dropped his mate off on the central coast so [a crash] was the only thing we could think of.”
Just 10 minutes after the helicopter took off those onboard — which included Sam’s uncle Michael Lethbridge — spotted the car 20m down a bank off the Pacific Highway at Crangan Bay, south of Newcastle. By the time emergency services were able to reach him he had been trapped with broken bones for about 30 hours.
I was a little bit afraid of what I might find.
Mr Lethbridge was taken to John Hunter Hospital where he underwent surgery for multiple fractures, including a broken arm, leg and spinal injuries, as well as dehydration He remains in a serious condition.
“He’d been there all night. No one could see him from the road, no one at all,” NSW Ambulance superintendent Jeff Atkins said.
When rescuers found him they had to peel the roof back and cut the seats out to free him. The car was so seriously damaged after plunging through bushes as it rolled that Mr Lethbridge couldn’t move inside because he was pinned under the dash.
“He was trapped extensively in the car from the waist down and was fully conscious through the whole ordeal,” Mr Atkins said.
Once freed, he was carried up the bank on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.
A very extensive rescue
“It was a very extensive rescue, very difficult access, difficult extrication of the patient, [we’re] very lucky the young patient is still alive.”
Sister Megan Lethbridge took to Facebook last night to say how lucky she felt.
“Counting my lucky stars tonight [Sam] is doing well so far,’ she wrote.
“Thanks to Skyline Aviation Group for an outstanding job in saving our son.”