Incident 82/2010

In the early hours of this morning at circa 02.05hrs, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was contacted directly by Andy Simpson, Team Leader of our colleagues at Rossendale and Pendle MRT, regarding a search for a missing person in the Higher Croft, Blackburn bordering the Lower Darwen area of Lancashire.

A man aged 45 years old, was missing from his home in the Higher Croft area of Blackburn in circumstances giving the Police concern for his welfare.
The search area entailed dense woodland, which the RPMRT were tasked with searching, and the Bolton MRT were contacted in case the search escalated and our resources were required.

RPMRT were joined by Officers from Lancashire Constabulary and their Air Support Unit helicopter in this part of the search operation.

At circa 07.50hrs this morning, our Team Leader was again contacted by Andy Simpson of RPMRT, requesting that the Bolton MRT now be called out to join in with RPMRT and Lancashire Constabulary resources in the continuing search for this missing person.

At 07.57hrs this morning a full team pager call out of the Bolton MRT membership was made.

A small number of Bolton MRT team members were immediately available to join forces with RPMRT members in search re-tasks (now it was daylight) and new search areas, to a search plan co-ordinated by RPMRTs Deputy Team Leader Paul Heywood.

RPMRTs Control Vehicle during this incident

Bolton MRT alongside RPMRT were tasked initially with the search of a densely vegetated steep sided stream course, which was completed around noon.

At circa 13.05hrs, news was received at the MRT Search Control / RVP that a Lancashire Police General Purpose Dog Unit had located the missing man nearby, in a designated search area, and a small number of RPMRT members were dispatched to assist the Police Dog Handler with casualty care.

Very soon afterwards an NWAS (Lancashire) Emergency Ambulance arrived, and the man was stretchered to the waiting Ambulance which then transported him to Royal Blackburn Hospital.

At this stage we were all stood down, just as Bolton MRT Team member Mark Parry arrived at the MRT Search Control / RVP from his nearby place of employment bearing 15x bags of chips for those involved. (Mark turned up with his immediate boss, so now his boss has seen the work of MRTs first hand)

The following resources were known to have been involved in this search operation;

  • Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team: (16x members in the first phase of this search operation, during the hours of darkness) 7x Team Call Out List members, one Team Land Rover MR Ambulance vehicle and their Control Vehicle. (From which the search was co-ordinated)
  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team: 8x Team Call Out List members on scene, with two more stood down responding. BM1 and BM3 Team Land Rover MR Ambulance vehicles.
  • Lancashire Constabulary: Air Support Unit helicopter, Divisional Officers including the Duty Inspector and the Duty Sgt (Also a Missing Person Search Manager), 3x Operational Support Units (OSUs) from Eastern, Southern and Preston Divisions, 1x General Purpose Police Dog Unit, (Who found the missing man)
  • North West Ambulance Service (Lancashire) Emergency Ambulance.
  • Family members and friends of the missing man were also involved in the search for him.

There follows a report on this search which appeared on the website of todays edition of the Blackburn Citizen newspaper:

“A Missing man has this afternoon been found semi-conscious on wasteland in Blackburn after a major 13-hour search.
Stephen Hunter, 45, who went missing from his home in Thornton Close, Highercroft, last night, was found by a police dog on land off Pilmuir Road at 1.15pm.

Mr Hunter had called officers at midnight indicating that he was going to take an overdose of pills, police said.

Around 30 police officers, the force helicopter and two mountain rescue teams were involved in the search centring on half a mile of woodland off Highercroft Road and Newfield Drive.

Police were growing increasingly concerned about his welfare and had classed him as ’high risk’.

He was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital via land ambulance.

Inspector Bilal Mulla of Blackburn police said: “It was a very successful operation and I want to thank all the officers and volunteers from the mountain rescue teams who did a fantastic job.

“Mr Hunter was found semi-conscious on disused land near to an old school and church and is now being treated in hospital.”

Members of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team (RPMRT) were asked to join police at 2.20am on the manhunt.

Paul Heywood, deputy team leader of RPMRT, said: “The search was quite extensive due to the overgrown vegetation.

“We had to go over many areas again just to make sure that we didn’t miss anything.”

The Bolton Mountain Rescue Team was also involved in the search.”

This successful search illustrates the excellent relationships we have with our colleagues in Rossendale and Pendle MRT and the Police, and the resources from MRTs and Lancashire Constabulary that work together to find and locate missing persons.