Incident 63/2015 – Major search operation in Moses Gate Country Park for missing Bolton man Jerry Hennelly

Further to Incident 62 of late Thursday evening, 13th August, our Team Leader liaised with GMP on Friday 14th August, regarding the on going enquiries by GMP to locate the whereabouts of 50 year old Jerry Hennelly, who was missing from his Heaton, Bolton home in circumstances giving concern to Police for his well being.

Media appeals on social media and local newspapers was gathering momentum when at circa 18.30hrs on the evening of Friday 14th August, the car of Mr Hennelly was located parked at the entrance to Moses Gate Country Park, immediately off Hall Lane, Farnworth.

A police search of the immediate area was launched, including an NPAS Police helicopter asset, but could not locate Mr Hennelly.

At 09.43hrs on the morning of Saturday 15th August, a GMP POLSA / Missing Person Search Manager contacted our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE for the assistance of Bolton MRT to join GMP resources in the developing search for Mr Hennelly, which was now centred upon Moses Gate Country Park, Farnworth.

4Based upon previous searches in this large area, Garry advised and called upon help from the neighbouring teams of Cheshire SART and Rossendale and Pendle MRT.

By 11.50hrs, GMP, Cheshire SART and Bolton MRT resources had all started assembling at the main entrance to Moses Gate Country Park, with a decision made to relocate the search RVP to the main car park area within the Country Park, alongside the River Croal.

Here assets from the NWUSMU, GMP Mounted Division and RPMRT also arrived, and a large scale search operation quickly developed.
The search was co ordinated and managed in liaison with GMP, by Bolton MRT from our Incident Control Vehicle, with our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, Steve Fletcher and Mike Marsh managing and co-ordinating overall the many search areas and search assets deployed.

Subsidiary co ordination of search areas and assets were also managed from the Control Vehicles of both Cheshire SART and Rossendale and Pendle MRT under the direction of Mark Susca and Robbie Davies of CSART, and Team Leader Peter Goble and Ted Handley of RPMRT.

SARDA resources included three air scenting search dog teams, two DVSD (Drowned Victim Search Dog) search dog teams and one Trailing Search dog team.

5Mountain Rescue ‘water’ search and rescue personnel mainly consisted of Bolton MRT members and our SAR Boat, but included Kevin Garvey of RPMRT and some Cheshire SART members.
This water element of the search was carried out in full liaison with the NWUSMU Sgt, who has operated for a great many years on search operations with Bolton MRT both when serving with GMP as a Missing Person Search Manager and now with the NWUSMU.

Search areas included woodland, open grassland, scrub, a canal, large lakes and small ponds, steep ground, rock faces, a major river and streams, allotments and urban areas.
Most of the overall search area was within the Moses Gate Country Park, including Crompton Lodges, and the River Croal, but extended along the disused Bolton and Bury Canal, Darley Park and Farnworth Cemetery, Nob End and Bull Hill.

Many of the search teams deployed included mixed teams of MRT and SRT members and GMP Officers / PCSOs, who carried out very extensive and comprehensive searches.

Throughout this major search operation, full catering support, with an endless supply of hot and cold drinks and hot food and biscuits / chocolate bars, was available freely to all involved, full time and volunteers, from the Bolton MRT Catering Trailer Unit, with Bolton MRT Support Group members Gillian Gregory, Iain Clarkson and Laura Tunnacliffe acting in much appreciated catering support from morning through to the late evening search conclusion.

1Bolton MRT Team President Bob Hutchinson made at least three supermarket trips at different times throughout the search operation to maintain the food and drink supplies, for the over 100 members from the various assets deployed to this search.

Early evening also saw a donation of a large number of Pasties from local catering company Carrs Pasties, which was very welcomed and much appreciated.

At one stage a quadcopter drone was deployed to aid the surface searching of bodies of water in the Bull Hill area (the drone operator – a former Bolton MRT member from long ago, is a fully CAA licenced drone operator)

With dusk, a huge land area already extensively searched and no finds relating to the missing person, the decision was made to suspend the search until the following morning, with Police enquiries continuing overnight.

2At 21.50hrs our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, team member Steve Fletcher, and a GMP Sgt liaison Officer were the last search assets to leave the Search RVP.

Bolton MRT team members then met at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ to make preparations for the search continuation on Sunday morning 16th August, with further water search taskings and a search of a rock face area planned, further Trailing and DVSD Search Dog taskings made, alongside the continuing search involvement of the NWUSMU.

No immediate requirement was needed for the assistance of Cheshire SART and RPMRT on Sundays planned search, but both teams pledged to be on standby if required, alongside one of the three air scenting Search dog teams involved.

The following resources were directly involved in the search today;

  • Greater Manchester Police; Mounted Division, 2x Horses and mounted officers, two Detective Officers – Chief Inspector and Sgt, one POLSA / Police Missing Person Search Manager, large number of Divisional Officers and Divisional PCSOs, one Tactical Aid Unit (which departed early for a priority tasking)
  • North West Police Underwater Search and Marine Unit; two vehicles and five Officers.
  • Bolton Mountain Rescue Team; four Land Rover Defender Mountain Rescue Ambulances, one Ford Transit crewbus / Ambulance, Incident Control Vehicle, Catering Trailer Unit, 3.4 metre semi rigid inflatable SAR Boat, twenty six operational members and three Support Group members.
  • Cheshire Search and Rescue Team; one Land Rover 110 Ambulance, one Control Unit vehicle, one Ford Transit Support Unit, twenty operational members.
  • Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team; one Land Rover Discovery Mountain Rescue Ambulance, two Toyota Hi Lux Mountain Rescue Ambulances, one Control vehicle, fifteen operational members.
  • SARDA Wales; one Trailing Dog Team, Handler Steve Nelson, navigator Elaine Gilliland, both from Bolton MRT and included in figures above, mountain rescue Trailing Dog Boris.
  • SARDA Ireland North; two DVSD Dog Teams, Handler Dave Marsh of Bolton MRT, included in figures above, and DVSD Search Dog Sasha, Handler Mike Dermody of British Transport Police and DVSD Search Dog Quincy.
  • SARDA England; Three Mountain Rescue Air Scenting Search Dog Teams, Handler Steve Garofalo, Search Dog Finn, from RPMRT, included in figures above, Handler Ellie Sherwin, Search Dog Pepper, and Handler Pete Farnell, Search Dog Meg, navigator Rich Smith, all three from Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team.
  • Ray Clift; Quadcopter drone.

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On Sunday morning, 16th August 2015, at circa 06.30hrs in the general vicinity of Church Road, Farnworth, the missing man Jerry Hennelly was found, alive, we understand by Network Rail operatives / contractors, near to railway construction works.

He was admitted to Hospital by NWAS Emergency Ambulance with GMP in attendance.

Our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE was then contacted by GMP to cancel the planned search operation.

During the same morning, our Team Leader was contacted on separate occasions by the Search POLSA / Police Missing Persons Search Manager who had been involved the previous day, the Duty Detective Chief Inspector and the Duty Sgt / Officer in Charge, from the previous days search operation.

All three through Garry, passed on their thanks for the major support shown to this search operation by the civilian search volunteers and SARDA assets deployed, without whom all three stated this search could not have taken place with the thoroughness it was conducted nor the areas covered that were searched.

It can be reported that the multi agency joint team working of this search was excellent with all agencies working seamlessly together, in mutual support and assistance, the result of many years of joint operational incidents and multiple training exercises, combined with a great many of the personnel involved, particularly from the MRTs / SART and SARDA all having worked together co operatively on many previous occasions, including particularly all the Team Leaders, Deputy Team Leaders and Search Managers – full time and volunteers.

Please also see the following website reports for information on a Standby Rescue Cover for a local Fell Race also attended by Bolton MRT this same day, a request to assist LFRS on a search operation and a rescue call out to Tyldesley (Incident 64)  that was attended by Bolton MRT during the evening of the search at Moses Gate – Saturday 15th August was an undoubtedly very busy day for the Bolton MRT!