We found her sitting in amongst the trees. It was strange really, she was well prepared, but it was all just very strange.

We’d been called at about 1700 to search for a missing person near Swansea. I was at base quickly enough and once I was changed, I got the second vehicle ready to leave and off we went. Blue lighting it out of Dowlais along the A465 to Hirwaun is never fun – it’s a horrible piece of road and with plenty of spray and rain, we held back a bit. Once past Hirwaun, we were on a dual carriageway and then the M4. One last bit of driving through semi-urban areas and we were at the RV.

ThoughtsIt was a pretty quick briefing. She’d been missing since the previous night. There was some concern for her safety. There wasn’t much to go on. Here’s your area, do your 300m search. Off you go.

The 300m search area is an interesting statistic. A lot of material has been collated in respect to missing person behaviour and the number of people found within 300m of the point where the missing person was last seen or was last known to be is very high. As a result, we frequently conduct a hasty search of the area immediately surrounding that point.

We’d only been searching for an hour or so – 300m doesn’t sound like much, but a circle of radius 300m is quite large – especially when it’s heavily wooded or scrubland. We’d met up with the second party and were just working out how best to attack the next area when one of the lads who was still walking back to us stopped. It took us a second to realise he was trying to attract our attention, but he’d seen something – and indeed, there she was. In a sleeping back with candles and a magazine, she lay in the forest, cold, wet and by now quite hypothermic.

We wasted no time tending to her and were soon handing her over to the Ambulance service for transport to hospital. The mad rush stopped and we started gathering our equipment – and our thoughts.

I stopped to think. How could she do that? I understand how people can get low enough to feel that there’s nothing left for them – I’ve had some pretty low points in my life and without the presence of good friends I’m not sure I wouldn’t have been in the same boat. But what I couldn’t understand was that she was sat there, under the trees, waiting. Within shouting distance of some houses, she lay there and let the elements take her – and that I couldn’t understand. I can fathom the need to end it all, but to passively lie there and wait…why the torture of waiting?

We’ve searched for a number of “despondent” people over the past few years. Some we’ve found safe and well and helped. Some we’ve been unable to provide anything but comfort for the family with the knowledge that they didn’t suffer. Some we’ve just not found. Each one is unique. You’re never sure if it’s a cry for help or a determined attempt to end it all. I’ve seen all age groups from teenagers to octagenarians, I’ve seen all manner of methods. I’ve accepted each one on it’s characteristics. This search struck a nerve in me, something happened there that I couldn’t understand.

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand how she could wait there, sitting in amongst the trees.

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One Response to “Sitting amongst the trees”

  1. Bronchitikat says:

    Heard about this Misper on the radio News the other day & wondered whether you’d been involved.

    I don’t know either. When I get that low I can’t go out – which is, probably, just as well.

    BTW – nice shot of our li’l boy. I recognise the blond ringlets!