Police tell dad that son had run away, but he doesn’t believe them. Instead, he hires a helicopter

What he discovered was more terrifying than anyone could have anticipated.
January 18, 2018 11:32 am Last Updated: January 18, 2018 11:32 am

Police field a wide range of calls on a daily basis. Most of them are of the garden variety, easily resolved with little drama or dust up.

Without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, an all-out police manhunt is unlikely.

Pulling from years of experience, officers told Tony Lethbridge earlier this month that his son likely ran away from home. Tony’s son, Samuel Lethbridge, never arrived at a friend’s house, and didn’t come home later that night.

Something didn’t sit right with Tony, though.

“Everybody was saying he’s probably run away … [but] that’s just not Samuel,” the father told reporters from Sunrise on Tuesday.

Australian father Tony Lethbridge was concerned when his 17-year-old son never arrived at a friend’s house, and never came home.

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Tony was worried that something might have happened to his boy. The father recalled one of Samuel’s friends telling him that he was very tired while driving them home, leading Tony to suspect a car wreck.

Police were confident that Sam would turn up unharmed. But Tony felt it in his gut—something was wrong and his son was in trouble.

The Aussie dad took drastic action. Rather than wait for police, Tony rented a helicopter and took the search to the skies.

“I thought… I can’t leave him out there without looking so yeah we went and hired the helicopter straight away and found him within ten minutes,” Tony said.

Police told Tony his son likely ran away from home. Unconvinced, he found his son after renting a helicopter to search for him.

Sunrise/ Screenshot

It was Samuel’s uncle that spotted him from the helicopter. Tony knew the route his son would have been taking, and the aerial view revealed the twisted wreckage hiding in the shrub.

The accident was completely invisible from the road, and if not for Tony’s persistence, his son likely wouldn’t have turned up alive.

The father recalled an accident in the same area five years ago. In that instance, the victim wasn’t found for five days and passed away.

“An accident happened there about five years ago … It stuck in my mind … I thought, ‘I can’t leave him out there without looking,'” he told 7 News.

They found Samuel via helicopter within 10 minutes. The car was in pieces, but Samuel was alive and rushed to the hospital.

Sunrise/ Screenshot

The rescue efforts were extensive. It took nearly an hour to extract Samuel from the vehicle. He was pinned underneath the dashboard, and fully conscious for approximately 30 hours, unable to move.

New South Wales Ambulance superintendent John Atkin added that it was a “very extensive rescue.” Most of the roof on the car had to be cut away to extract Samuel.

The Aussie teen broke several bones and is in critical condition in the ICU, but is expected to recover.

In a Facebook post following the rescue, Samuel’s sister, Megan, wrote that she was “counting my lucky stars tonight [Sam] is doing well so far.”