Missing woman found dead

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 17:09 21/02/2014

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A Mosgiel woman who went missing from the home of a friend appears to have drowned alone in some swampy and silty ground two kilometres from where she had been staying.

The body of 67-year-old Gae Pantel, who had been missing for two days, was found by two cyclists in a clump of trees 2km from where she was last seen on Tuesday.

Sergeant Kevin Davidson, of Mosgiel police, said it appeared Pantel had been walking along a rural road just outside Mosgiel when it got dark and she got into trouble.

''It was very very dark and it appears Mrs Pantel headed off the road way,'' he said.

''She then got trapped in some trees and silty mud in a swampy area.''

Indications were Pantel had subsequently drowned, Davidson said.

Pantel was suffering from ill health and was believed to have been confused in recent days, he said.

Friends of Pantel were taking comfort from the fact at least she had been found and brought home, Davidson said.

''There can be some closure and comfort taken Gae had been found.''

Friends and family were grateful for all the support and the effort put in by those who had searched, he said.

Police, search and rescue volunteers, as well as friends and family of Pantel had been searching for her over the past two days.

Up to 30 searchers from Oamaru and Balclutha took part in the search while a fixed-wing plane was also used to gain aerial views of the greater Taieri area and to check waterways and rural farm lanes without success.

The circumstances around Pantel's death were not suspicious and the matter had been referred to the coroner, Davidson said.

Police extended their thanks to all those who participated in the intensive search for Pantel over the past few days, particularly the volunteer search and rescue teams.

In a small community those searching often had connections to those they were looking for and this had been the case during the past 48 hours, Davidson said.

"Searchers have put in 100 per cent effort into finding Mrs Pantel and I would sincerely like to thank them for their commitment over the past few days," he said.

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