Incident 50/2012

At 06.15hrs this morning our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was contacted by Mick Nield, Team Leader Oldham MRT regards the early stages of a search being organised for a missing 73 year old man in Heaton Park, Manchester, the same location we had spent Monday evening, 2nd July searching in for a missing 22 year old young man.

The man from Stretford, a regular walker, had informed his wife he was going to Heaton Park for a walk on the afternoon of Wednesday 4th July, and as the evening wore on and he did not return she became increasingly worried as to his whereabouts.


At circa 01.30hrs this morning, she had contacted GMP, who began a missing person enquiry, calling initially upon Oldham MRT for their assistance later in the morning.

GMP had conducted a triangulation of the missing mans mobilephone, which indicated he might be in the Heaton Park area.

It was decided to place both Oldham MRT and Bolton MRT on immediate standby alongside contacting Rossendale and Pendle MRT for their assistance, to also go to standby.

Soon afterwards all three teams were requested to attend Heaton Park for 08.30hrs, and at 07.12hrs a full team pager call out took place.


By 08.30hrs resources from all three involved MRTs started to arrive at the Search RVP, set up at the Lake / Sheepfoot Lane Car Park within Heaton Park.

The initial and immediate search strategy focused on quickly searching the very extensive pathway and trackway network throughout this large park, with searchers deployed by 09.00hrs.

Throughout the morning, the search intensified with assistance from Park Staff, and with GMP resources and SARDA Search Dog teams all joining the growing effort.

Late morning our specialist Mountain Rescue Trailing Dog handler Steve Nelson and his Trailing Dog Boris, ‘picked up’ a scent trail from the missing man, leading through the park, with the SARDA Air Scenting Dog Team of handler John Coombs and his Search Dog Biscuit (Edale MRT) conducting a ‘follow up’ search along the exact same route indicated by Trailing Dog Boris.

At circa 12.28hrs, SARDA Handler John Coombs’s Search Dog Biscuit in the company of Naomi Horan, from Bolton MRT, who was acting as navigator to John, indicated on an area of dense woodland, which upon investigation revealed the body of a male.

Other nearby searchers, including Search Dog Handler Steve Ward (Oldham MRT) and Park Staff went to the scene and formed a cordon, to ensure members of the public in this very well used park, did not inadvertently venture near the area.

By 13.33hrs GMP Officers were on scene, and on site Police investigations commenced, with all MRT and SARDA resources departing the scene by 14.30hrs leaving the deceased man and the immediate scene in the care of GMP Officers.

With the identity of the body confirmed as that of the missing 73 year old man, the very sad task of informing his wife who had journeyed to the park was undertaken.

The mans wife was taken home in the company of a Police Liaison Officer, with two members of Oldham MRT taking her car back to her home address for her.

With all present taking a somewhat sombre late lunchbreak, and with debriefs conducted all MRT / SARDA resources departed the Search RVP by 16.00hrs.

The following resources were deployed during this search operation, which had such a sad outcome;

  • Oldham MRT; Team vehicles including their Control Unit, eleven team members.
    Rossendale and Pendle MRT ; Five team members.
  • Bolton MRT; Twelve team members, three team Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances, Control Trailer and SAR Boat (For a planned search of the lake areas in the park, which in the event did not take place)
  • Search and Rescue Dog Association (England) teams from; Handler John Coombs, Search Dog Biscuit / Edale MRT. Handler Steve Ward / Oldham MRT. Handler Nick Smith, Search Dog Zak / Buxton MRT, with navigator Andy Keen / Buxton MRT.
  • Search and Rescue Dog Association (Wales) team from; Handler Steve Nelson, Trailing Dog Boris / Bolton MRT.
  • Heaton Park Managers; 2x
  • Heaton Park Rangers; 2x
  • Greater Manchester Police; One Missing Person Search Manager, seven Officers from the Tactical Aid Unit, three Officers from CID, and Divisional Officers.

The thoughts and condolences of all who took part in this search today which had such a tragic outcome are extended to the wife and family of the deceased man.

During this search operation at circa 12.45hrs, our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE received a call from NWAS (Manchester) ECC who were aware he was co-ordinating the resources of the three MRTs involved, requesting MRT assistance with an incident at Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale.

Illustrating the very close integration of the MRTs working on this search, a mixed MRT party of three Bolton and two Oldham members were despatched in one of our Land Rovers present, with the Oldham MRT member acting as driver.

Whilst en route they were stood down at 13.00hrs as the responding NWAS (Manchester) Emergency Ambulance crew was able to access the casualty. (This appears here for information only and does not feature in our incident listings)