Crooks found af­ter six weeks

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - SAM SHER­WOOD

Shel­ley Crooks used her ex­ten­sive bush craft knowl­edge to sur­vive six weeks in the bush with a leg in­jury.

The mother-of-four, who has fam­ily links in Toko­roa, had last been seen near West­port on De­cem­ber 22.

The 36-year-old woman had told a friend she was hitch­hik­ing to Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty, where she was orig­i­nally from.

She had not been heard from since – un­til Sun­day night, when a mem­ber of the pub­lic recog­nised Crooks on a track in Pu­nakaiki on the West Coast and called emer­gency ser­vices about 7pm.

Grey­mouth po­lice Sergeant Michel Bloom said Crooks was in hospi­tal re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment, but was do­ing well.

‘‘This is a re­mark­able story of sur­vival.’’

Crooks had set out to do a four­day walk in the Mt Bo­vis area when she be­came dis­ori­en­tated and sus­tained a leg in­jury.

‘‘She was well-equipped and has ex­ten­sive bush craft knowl­edge, en­abling her to sur­vive for six weeks as she at­tempted to slowly make her way out of the bush.’’

Bloom said Crooks was found by a mem­ber of the pub­lic near one of the walk­ing tracks.

She was then picked up by the West Coast Res­cue He­li­copter and flown to Grey Base Hospi­tal in Grey­mouth.

‘‘[Crooks] wants to ex­press her grat­i­tude to the tram­per who found her, and ev­ery­one in­volved in the search and res­cue ef­forts to try and lo­cate her,’’ Blooms said.

In Jan­uary, Shel­ley Crooks’ fa­ther John Crooks, from Opotiki, said his daugh­ter en­joyed tramp­ing and hunt­ing and was ca­pa­ble of liv­ing with­out elec­tric­ity.

‘‘We’ve al­ways been out­door peo­ple our­selves, hunt­ing, fish­ing, Shel­ley is a com­pe­tent food gath­erer, diver and she has lived with­out power as well so she does have that skill level,’’ he said at the time.

Po­lice thanked ev­ery­one who helped in their ef­forts to find Crooks over the last six weeks.

‘‘We are ec­static this had had a pos­i­tive out­come.’’

Speak­ing from his Opotiki home ear­lier on Mon­day, Crooks’ fa­ther John said the fam­ily were leav­ing for the West Coast.

‘‘We are in a re­ally good space at the mo­ment; we are re­ally grate­ful for ev­ery­thing re­ally,’’ he said.

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