Peter Pugh was enjoying a walk in the countryside near Brancaster, east England, with friends and family, when he became separated from them. On Saturday, June 16, the 75-year-old man was walking home around 5:10 p.m. and appeared to vanish without a trace.
Peter’s wife, Felicity Pugh, grew worried when her husband never returned and she called the police. But with so much territory to scan for the missing senior, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
As the hours passed, hope of finding Peter alive began to fade.
A search party was formed immediately, and police, coastguards, fire fighters, and lowland rescue dedicated their efforts to trying to find Peter. More than 50 people were involved in the search altogether.
“Team paged to search for a missing 75-year-old man,” a coastguard report said. “Last seen crossing the tidal inlet at Titchwell beach.”
Despite helicopter flyovers and the use of infrared technology, the search proved fruitless. The sun went down, visibility declined, and the search was called off until 4 a.m. the next morning.
“Search plan was formulated by all teams and these were then actioned,” the report said.
Peter was found thanks to the use of a drone. Responders say a rescue would have failed without it.
“The police drone allows us to search areas that are difficult to access and within close range where a helicopter may not be able to get,” Sergeant Alex Bucher from the Norfolk Constabulary said in a statement.
“There is no doubt that without the police drone we would not have been able to locate him in the time we did.”
Peter had attempted to take a shortcut through a thick marsh, where he slipped and fell, and then the tide came in, making it impossible to keep walking.
“I kept trying to escape but couldn’t. I couldn’t crawl because my feet got stuck and if I stood up and tried to walk, the same, they got stuck,” Peter told the BBC.
He’d stayed the night in the swampy water, and was suffering from hypothermia when found.
Coastguards said the marsh where Peter was found is among the most hostile terrain in the area, and is mostly inaccessible.
“The drone hovered over the casualty to guide the teams in but even from 6 feet the search teams could not see him because of the terrain,” the report said.
Peter was airlifted to the hospital, and Felicity is thankful for the technology that saved her husband.
Fantastic picture taken on the incident Sunday, where our Rescue Helicopter, Rescue 912, winched down to the casualty.
“The emergency services and technology saved his life but he stayed alive because he was so fit,” Felicity told the BBC.
Responders looked after him until a helicopter was able to arrive. Because there was nowhere for the helicopter to land, the team used a winch and pulled Peter into the aircraft.
“Whilst this was going on a police officer delivered the good news to the family that the casualty was alive after being submerged in water for over 20 hours,” the coastguard said.
Peter continues to recover from the effects of hypothermia, but is expected to make a full recovery. On Father’s Day, the family could ask for nothing better than their joyful reunion.
A police drone has saved the life of a 75-year-old man who'd been missing on Norfolk marshes all night. Police have released the moment the drone spotted Peter Pugh the following afternoon allowing rescuers to make their way to where he was trapped in a coastal creek.
Posted by ITV Anglia on Tuesday, June 19, 2018