Rescued: 73-year-old grandmother had almost ran out of water when police arrived
Police said the help of a resident was vital in finding a 73-year-old grandmother who spent more than two days stranded in her four-wheel-drive in remote bushland north of Mullewa, in Western Australia’s Mid West.
Karen Neu’s ordeal began when she became lost and then heavily bogged in her vehicle after taking an unfamiliar route while driving along bush tracks to her Urawa home on April 29.
Mrs Neu’s daughter alerted police about 7pm on Monday, worried because she had not heard from her mother since noon on Saturday.
Mullewa police contacted Urawa landowner Doug Reid, who used his local knowledge of bush tracks to help officers search the harsh terrain that night.
“We managed to navigate our way through several creek beds, river beds and very scruffy bush tracks to a shed where Karen was living,” Mullewa Police Station officer-in-charge Sergeant Chris Martin said.
“She wasn’t there and the building was locked up, so our concerns started to get a bit graver then.”
About 9.30pm the group spotted Mrs Neu’s vehicle on a creek bed about 2km from her home.
They raced to the scene, where they found her safe and well.
“When I heard a knock on the window and looked up and saw Mr Policeman standing there, it was a beautiful sight. I was so relieved,” Mrs Neu said.
“On the first day I had good hopes that someone would come. When it got to the second day, I got a little bit worried.”
Although she had blankets and some bread, Mrs Neu had almost run out of drinking water.
Sgt Martin said he was unsure how much longer she could have survived.
“I think within the next day or so Karen would have begun to struggle medically with the lack of water and food, and also psychologically because she may have lost hope of being found,” he said.
Sgt Martin said Mr Reid’s assistance and local knowledge was “paramount” in finding Mrs Neu.
“Without his local knowledge of the area, we would not have found her,” he said.
He commended Mrs Neu’s decision to stay with her vehicle.
“A vehicle is always a safe place to stay if you’re lost. They are much easier to see from the air and they also provide shelter should conditions deteriorate,” he said.
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