84-year-old would be ‘embarrassed’
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