Cou­ple found safe

Search for el­derly pair ends hap­pily

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - PA­TRICK BILLINGS

OLD habits die hard, so it was lit­tle sur­prise an el­derly New Nor­folk cou­ple miss­ing for nearly 24 hours were found do­ing what they have al­ways en­joyed — sit­ting to­gether look­ing over the wa­ter.

But the seren­ity of the scene by the River Derwent last Wed­nes­day was in stark con­trast to the fran­tic ef­forts to find them overnight on Tues­day.

Gor­don Pick­ery, 83, and his wife Hazel, 79, who both have de­men­tia, went miss­ing about noon on Tues­day af­ter a trip to the su­per­mar­ket.

Hav­ing just re­lo­cated from north­ern Tasmania to Co­rum- bene Nurs­ing Home a few weeks ago, they did not know the area well.

“They had gone shop­ping but un­for­tu­nately they’re prob­a­bly not fa­mil­iar with the area and for what­ever rea­son they’ve gone for a walk,” Tasmania Po­lice In­spec­tor Ge­orge Cretu said.

Af­ter no sign of them by 8pm, fam­ily and Co­rum­bene con­tacted po­lice. Time was a crit­i­cal fac­tor on the cold night in the Derwent Val­ley where temperatures dipped be­low 0C.

Po­lice sent out a he­li­copter, pa­trol boat and a search and res­cue team. Tri­an­gu­lat­ing phone sig­nals from the cou­ple’s mo­bile — which was go­ing un- an­swered — po­lice nar­rowed down their lo­ca­tion to be­tween New Nor­folk and the Sal­mon Ponds along Glenora Rd.

SES vol­un­teers searched through the night while po­lice did mo­bile pa­trols in the area.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, au­thor­i­ties re­ceived valu­able in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic re­gard­ing sight­ings of the cou­ple.

They were found just be­fore 9am sit­ting by the river at a fish­ing spot about 2km from where they were last seen.

“Po­lice on site tell me that both Gor­don and Hazel had no real mem­ory of how they got to be where they were and were over­whelmed by the amount of po­lice at­ten­tion,” Insp Cretu said.

“They were con­fused. They were in good spir­its (and) well.”

He said the fam­ily, who live in the area, were “very re­lieved and grate­ful” their loved ones were found safe and well.

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