Above and be­yond

Canning Times - - FRONT PAGE - with de­men­tia. State Emer­gency Ser­vices, po­lice and an ex­traor­di­nary army of vol­un­teers joined forces to launch a large-scale search through­out the ru­ral suburbs on the fringes of Perth. Ben Smith

ON Sat­ur­day, May 19, Can­ning Vale grand­fa­ther Ian Col­lett was re­ported miss­ing af­ter he left his home for a walk and did not re­turn.

For the next month, Se­nior Sergeant Dar­ryl Bran­dis’ life was con­sumed by the search for him.

The Mundi­jong po­lice of­fi­cer-in-charge spear­headed the big­gest op­er­a­tion of his 30-year ca­reer in the force to find Mr Col­lett, who was liv­ing

While the grand­fa­ther’s body was found af­ter the of­fi­cial search had ended, no one ap­pre­ci­ated Sgt Bran­dis’ ef­forts more than the Col­lett fam­ily them­selves, who nom­i­nated him for a Chan­nel 9 WA Po­lice Ex­cel­lence Award.

Sgt Bran­dis said he re­mem­bered ev­ery­thing about the search for Ian Col­lett, from start to fin­ish.

“On the Sun­day evening, I got a call from the Su­per­in­ten­dent,” he said.

“I got in­volved about 6am next morn­ing and then that’s what I did for the next month.”

Sgt Bran­dis even came into the of­fice on his days off to brief Mr Col­lett’s fam­ily.

“I only had two days off, but those days ended up be­ing the days we bussed the fam­ily in here to see the op­er­a­tion was run­ning,” he said.

“I came in and showed the fam­ily through the sta­tion, the op­er­a­tions room and what we were do­ing.

“I al­ways think that no mat­ter what I was go­ing through, the fam­ily was go­ing through a lot more than me.”

He formed a close bond with the fam­ily through­out the or­deal and said he could not have wished for a bet­ter fam­ily to work with.

“I was re­ally blessed be­cause they were re­ally easy to speak to, very un­der­stand­ing, and as long as they were kept in the loop about what I was do­ing and what my team was do­ing, they were very com­forted,” he said.

“More than them be­ing blessed by me, I was blessed by hav­ing them as a fam­ily who were so open with what we were do­ing.”

Even af­ter the widereach­ing search was called off, Sgt Bran­dis re­mained stead­fast in his be­lief he would find Mr Col­lett.

“On Mon­day morn­ing, I gave the file to Miss­ing Per­sons to fol­low. On Thurs­day, three days later, I got the call, say­ing they found some­one in our search area,” he said.

“I ended up be­ing the first po­lice of­fi­cer there and that was ac­tu­ally a re­ally good thing be­cause I felt like I knew Ian re­ally, re­ally well.

“I iden­ti­fied Ian straight away my­self so I could do the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and I could treat him with the re­spect he needed and I was able to tell the fam­ily straight away.”

While he is one of three fi­nal­ists at the Po­lice Ex­cel­lence Awards, which will be an­nounced on Thurs­day, Sgt Bran­dis in­sists he is al­ready a win­ner.

“I saw at one stage I was in the fi­nal 10. That was hon­estly enough for me be­cause I feel blessed I met the Col­letts and was able to re­turn Ian to them,” he said.

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