When Tony Lethbridge’s teenage son didn’t return home, The police questioned whether 17-year-old Samuel had run away. Yet Tony was determined to found out where he was.
Set Out On A Trip
The Lethbridges live in the Australian state of New South Wales. Early one Sunday morning, Samuel Lethbridge was set to drive home to his parents’ house from Central Coast, about an hour away. He was due to meet his girlfriend there later that day.
Never Showed Up
But the teenager never showed up. And by Sunday afternoon, Samuel’s siblings alerted their parents that they hadn’t had any communication with him either. Tony then found out that Samuel’s girlfriend also hadn’t heard from Samuel, which they thought was very odd.
Starting To Worry Now
Tony and his wife tried to call their son repeatedly, but he didn’t answer. The couple were a couple of hundred miles away in the city of Canberra, but decided to drive home to find out what had happened. And their first port of call was the local police station, where they informed officers that their son was missing.
No Choice But To Wait
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Tony said, “The police told us that he might have ran away, ‘but it’s out of character; it’s not him.’ They put all the things in motion and we waited and waited. They just told us to go home and wait.” And so they did, anxiously, without much assurance from the police.
Couldn’t Just Sit And Wait
But Tony couldn’t just wait and do nothing. By this point, no one had seen or spoken to Samuel in nearly 24 hours, and he was beside himself. Tony was having a hard time listening to the police. What should he do? He owed it to his son to look for him.
A Somewhat Crazy Idea
Whilst tossing and turning in the night, a thought suddenly occurred to Tony. “The way the bush is on that route, if a car goes in you’re not going to see it. The only way you’ll see it is from the air,” Tony recalled. “That was in my head, so I just thought b**ger this, I’m not going to sit around and wait.”
Tony decided the next morning, that if he was going to have a good chance of finding his son, it was in the air. So that brought him to the next part of his plan. He drove to Lake Macquarie Airport, determined to hire a helicopter.
What Would Happen Next?
As luck would have it, the helicopter company had been forced to call off some training flights that morning. However, due to the seriousness of the situation, the staff agreed to help Tony look for his son. The plan was coming together.
A Problem Arises
Unfortunately, Tony is afraid of flying, so he asked his brother Michael to get aboard the helicopter. Tony planned that he would wait at home for any news or a call. In the event that Michael found something, Tony was ready to drive to the location and alert emergency services. And so the plan commenced.
Would The Plan Work In The Weather Conditions?
The helicopter was circling the sky as Michael looked frantically for anything that would indicate a clue. But so far, nothing. He was so anxious, Tony was so sure that this was going to help them, so he had to have patience.
What Would Be Now?
Suddenly Michael spotted what appeared to be a vehicle from the air, sort of hidden in the bush, away from the road. So he immediately called Tony, who jumped in his car and began driving to the location.
In the meantime, the helicopter pilot dropped Michael near the car so that he could check it out. Then the helicopter hovered over the scene. This was done so that the emergency services and Tony could find the location more easily.
Approaching With Caution
Michael approached the car, calling out to Samuel. But there was no response, and his uncle was worried about what he would find. He had to brace himself.
Not A Pretty Sight
The scene of this crash was lethal. The car was extremely banged up and it didn’t look like whoever was driving could have survived. Still he kept calling his nephews name, and as he got closer he dreaded what he might find.
Heart Pounds Harder
“When I got there, I ran down there and it was just jubilation,” Michael explained. “It was unbelievable to find him there. You wouldn’t have seen him if it wasn’t for the helicopter, because I couldn’t see him from the road.” His gut feeling told him right. He couldn’t believe that he had found him.
In Bad Shape
Samuel was however, in really bad shape. He had broken both his arm and thigh bone, he was severely dehydrated, and on top of that had dislocated his elbow and suffered a few other fractures, too. The accident had trapped him in the car, pinning him under the dashboard, leaving him unable to move. It didn’t bear thinking about what if they had not had found him in time.
Emergency Services To The Rescue
Emergency services were able to cut Samuel out of the car and take him to hospital, but he still faced an extremely difficult road to recovery. After several scans, he underwent surgery to fix his more serious injuries, including the broken thigh bone.
Dad Arrives To The Scene
When Tony arrived at the crash site and found his son alive, he rushed down to the car. “He spoke to me when I got down to the car,” Tony explained. ”I grabbed him and I said, ‘Mate, Dad’s got you.’”
A Helping Hand
Following Samuel’s rescue, the Lethbridges paid their bill to the helicopter company, but they were delighted when Skyline Aviation immediately returned the money. They were just glad they could help in some small way, which ended up being the saving grace.
A Small Gesture Goes A Long Way
“We recognize that the family will have many medical expenses in the future and wanted to contribute where we can. Under the circumstance we believe there has been enough stress on the family, and that any additional financial stress was unwarranted,” said the helicopter pilot.
A Happy Ending Finally
Megan Lethbridge was so grateful for Skyline Aviation’s kindness that she posted on Facebook to let all of her friends know about it. “It’s hard to believe that there are still some wonderful people in this world,” she wrote. “I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.”
But Would He Be Ok?
After a lengthy operation, Samuel healed and slowly but surely made a recovery. He had to learn to walk steadily but thankfully he made it out alive. If it wasn’t for his dad’s idea, who knows how long he would have been in that car for. A lesson to us all, to go with our gut feeling.