Northland Police Thank Volunteers And Members Of The Public For Help With Searches
Police want to acknowledge the tireless contribution and
massive response of
volunteers and members of the public who have helped search recently for two
Northland men, who went missing in separate incidents.
The search for 72-year-old Whangārei man
Brian Bench was the largest search
operation conducted in the Northland area in the last 17 years. (see note)
During the five-day search, helicopters and
sniffer dogs were brought in to
help and volunteers scoured backyards, streets and waterways.
who suffered from Alzheimer’s, was discovered by Police
a walking track on Mount Parihaka and sadly, despite their efforts, he passed
away at the scene.
Only days after locating Mr Bench, Police were
involved in a search to find
95-year-old Charles Strange who went missing from the Whangaroa Marina. Sadly
he was found deceased on Monday.
of the Northland Police Search and Rescue Squad, Senior
Metcalfe, said in both cases the contribution from the public and volunteers
were crucial in finding the missing men and being able to return them to
rallies in these sorts of times of adversity and
really appreciate the support. Their assistance is invaluable and their
concern for Brian was genuine,” Senior Sergeant Metcalfe said.
“It’s not the result we were hoping for but
we were able to return these
loved ones to their families, for which they were very grateful.”
case of Mr Bench, members of the public and volunteers
searched a huge
area, which would have taken Police weeks to cover on their own.
“Without the public we
couldn’t have covered the large area
properties that we did. We would have only been able to scratch the
acknowledged the massive public response through Facebook to
possible sightings of Mr Bench.
“All the information we received, we investigated.”
thanked groups who turned up and fed those involved in the
included Soul Food and Rapid Relief.
Volunteers involved in Land SAR Northland, Far
North SAR, Coastguard and Surf
Lifesaving joined the search for Mr Bench.
“It was like looking for a
needle in 1000 haystacks. But the whole
operated at 150 per cent and there was never any thought of giving up. There
was a steely determination between the volunteers and the management team to
find Brian. We owed it to his family,” Metcalfe said.
“We were hugely grateful and were
blown away by the people coming forward
to help, even if they didn’t know Brian.” At its peak there were about
160 people involved in the search for Brian.
And when Police were this week called to look
for Mr Strange, locals in the
Whangaroa area leant a hand to the Police operation.
headquarters was at the Whangaroa game Fishing Club. The
Dive squad were called in but it was members of Far North SAR who found Mr
“Once again the community rallied and the
hospitality was phenomenal,”
He said it had been an unusually busy period for search and rescue.
“Normally people don’t venture
out in winter. It’s been unusually busy
for this time of year.”