Lost boy survives night in bush

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 19:15 01/10/2012

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An 11-year-old Christchurch boy was found "good as gold" after surviving a night in dense West Coast bush wearing only a wet singlet and shorts.

West Coast police search and rescue co-ordinator Constable Mike Tinnelly said the boy, who was part of a visiting rugby team staying at Kotuku Lodge, had gone for a walk with a group of boys on Saturday afternoon.

He became lost after he decided to return to the lodge by himself and took a wrong turn about 4.30pm, Tinnelly said.

Police were notified about 8pm after attempts to find the boy failed.

Several police, including a dog handler, two civilian dog handlers, and 10 Land Search and Rescue volunteers searched the area throughout the night.

A Solid Energy rescue helicopter crew, with night-vision gear, also assisted.

Tinnelly said the boy was found about 5am yesterday by one of the LandSAR dog handlers after more than 12 hours alone in the bush near Kokiri.

"He was about 1.9 kilometres up from the turnoff. He was a bit cold but was quite chirpy. He walked out on his own with the dog handler. He was good as gold," he said.

Tinnelly said the boy, whose clothing was "saturated" after he fell in the creek, was "very lucky" the weather was in his favour and he had shelter in the dense bush.

"If it had been a wet, cold night he would've had hypothermia," he said.

The boy was taken back to the lodge for food and a hot shower. He did not require medical attention.

Tinnelly said the boy's mother and grandfather decided to drive over from Christchurch in the middle of the night after they were notified.

The boy is understood to be a junior member of the Christchurch Football Club.

Do you know the boy's family? Contact reporter caroline.king@press.co.nz

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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