84-year-old would be ‘em­bar­rassed’

Coastal News - - Coastal News - By ALI­SON SMITH [email protected]­news.co.nz

The daugh­ter of an 84-year-old Whanga­mata woman who sur­vived while lost in re­mote Western Aus­tralian bush by drink­ing from rain pud­dles says her re­mark­able mother is ter­ri­bly em­bar­rassed and will be beat­ing her­self up about go­ing miss­ing.

Pa­tri­cia Byrne — a teacher aide at Whanga­mata Area School — was miss­ing for three days af­ter sit­ting to take a rest while on a bush walk in the Stir­ling Ranges Na­tional Park with her fam­ily.

The great-grand­mother had not been seen since 11.30am on Thurs­day and was found walk­ing on the side of a road on Sun­day about 4km from where she was last seen.

Her daugh­ter Caro­line Sher­borne flew to Aus­tralia as more than 200 peo­ple searched for her mother with the help of a plane, a he­li­copter and in­frared search­ing tech­nol­ogy, drones, horses and tracker dogs.

Perth Now re­ported that Mrs Byrne was in a re­mark­able con­di­tion when she stum­bled out of the bush and was found by two po­lice of­fi­cers.

“To be hon­est I thought I was com­ing to plan a fu­neral,” her daugh­ter Caro­line told the Coastal News in Whanga­mata. “As soon as the plane came in to land I felt sick, but my son turned on his phone and said ‘I’ve got a mes­sage — she’s alive!’ So there was great ju­bi­la­tion among the pas­sen­gers sit­ting around us.”

The po­lice of­fi­cers that found her said she ap­peared so healthy that for a sec­ond they didn’t be­lieve she was the woman they were look­ing for.

Pa­tri­cia — known as Tr­ish — is in Al­bany Hos­pi­tal and was be­ing vis­ited by Caro­line and her brother John Byrne and their fam­i­lies.

Caro­line says her mother is very fit and healthy and not on any med­i­ca­tions. She had not eaten while she was lost in the bush.

“She’s just amaz­ing, I can’t wait to hear her story of how she sur­vived.

“It’s amaz­ing how these small com­mu­ni­ties rally to­gether in times like this. It was a mam­moth ef­fort, the com­mu­nity here ab­so­lutely ral­lied around my brother and his wife Mar­got and their fam­ily, they have been fan­tas­tic.”

How­ever, Caro­line says her mother is not likely to want to talk too much about her coura­geous sur­vival ef­fort.

“She is ter­ri­bly em­bar­rassed and she will be beat­ing her­self up about it.”

Caro­line says the peo­ple of Whanga­mata, in­clud­ing Pa­tri­cia’s neigh­bours, have been very sup­port­ive and she was grate­ful to the in­cred­i­ble ef­forts of search and res­cuers, in­clud­ing the Sal­va­tion Army who came in to feed those search­ing.

‘As soon as the plane came in to land I felt sick, but my son turned on his phone and said ‘I’ve got a mes­sage — she’s alive!’. So there was great ju­bi­la­tion among the pas­sen­gers sit­ting around us.’

— Caro­line Sher­borne

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