Mother, child endure chilly night in gully

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2013

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A four-year-old West Coast boy and his mother huddled with their pet dogs for warmth as they spent a chilly night stuck down a steep bank on their family farm.

Constable Dave Taylor, of the Greymouth police, said the drama began on Monday afternoon when the youngster fell about 10 metres down a rugged gully near his Ahaura farm while playing with his dogs.

His mother saw it happen and rushed over to rescue him but also fell down the bank, unfortunately pushing her son further down, he said. Their dogs fell down after them.

"After about three hours of attempting to find a way out, they got caught out by darkness."

They spent the night cuddled up to the dogs for warmth while the boy slept on his mother, wrapped in her jacket.

At dawn yesterday she left her son to search for a way out and finally managed to clamber to safety about 9am, calling emergency services from their home only 200m away.

"She did really well to get out even though it's a short way down. She had quite a lot of scratches on her," Taylor said.

Fire crews managed to get down the bank to the youngster and stretcher him to safety by about 11am.

"He didn't say a lot but he was pretty keen for his breakfast," Taylor said.

"He was talking about cornflakes when he got up.

"They were both obviously pretty cold."

Ngahere Volunteer Fire Brigade officer Deb Daly said crews from Greymouth and Reefton also attended.

"It was good Greymouth showed up because they were the ones that were experienced with the rope rescue."

The boy's 10m fall was a "straight drop", she said.

"It was lucky there's a fair bit of scrub on the bank." That probably would have broken his fall.

St John Ambulance took the boy, who had a sore shoulder, to Greymouth Hospital for assessment.

He was treated and discharged yesterday afternoon.

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- The Press

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