His Son Disappeared So He Did Everything He Could To Get Him Home Safely

Published on 02/02/2020
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There’s nothing like the relationship between father and son. Parents can understand the love one feels for their child and what they will do for their son or daughter. Some parents will give up everything for their children and we see this everywhere. Whether it’s getting up extra early to take their kids to school or making a dinner that satisfies everyone’s interests, parents devote their lives to their children. This father was no exception to this rule. Whether it be paternal instinct or just out of genuine care this dad did something unbelievable, in fact, he did the extraordinary…

His Son Disappeared And He Did Everything He Could To Get Him Home Safely

Putting Children First

Some parents stop their whole life to focus on their children and will go to any lengths when they fear their child is in danger. Tony Lethbridge, a father from Australia did exactly that on January 16, 2018, when he learned his son was missing. He exceeded all standards of normal parenting and changed the way we see the concept of “putting your child first.”

Putting Children First

Just An Average Day

It began just like any other day in New South Wales, Australia. Tony Lethbridge and his 17-year-old son Samuel lived in a small town called Lake Macquarie, so they spent most of their time in Sydney which was eight miles away. Samuel decided to go to Sydney for a party, and never expected that his life would be endangered.

 

Just An Average Day

Something Was Off

At the end of the night, Tony hadn’t heard a word from his son and he knew something was wrong. While sometimes teenagers forget to tell their parents that they got home safely after a big night out, this wasn’t necessarily typical of Samuel to do. Tony understood the possibilities, Samuel could have easily just fallen asleep at a friend or forgotten to charge his phone, but he couldn’t help but feel like something was wrong.

Something Was Off

The Typical Parent Reaction

It’s normal for parents to freak out when they don’t get a call from their kids after a night out. As children, we all know what it’s like to wake up with over 10 missed calls from our mom or dad. While his mind was going in so many different directions, Tony hoped he was exaggerating. While he hoped Samuel would just come through the door, 20 hours passed without a word. At this point, it was clear that something was wrong.

The Typical Parent Reaction

His Mind Went To The Worst Place

Tony did not sleep the entire night and convinced himself that Samuel partied a bit too much and just forgot to message his father. When Sunday night came around this possibility was less likely. Tony decided to wait one more night before completely freaking out. However, he woke Monday morning and his son was still nowhere to be found.

His Mind Went To The Worst Place

Wild Child

Tony was so desperate for what to do. He consulted with his friends and family who said he probably ran away. Tony and Samuel were very close and he knew this wasn’t typical of Samuel. Tony was positive that the only reason Samuel wouldn’t update his parents was that he simply didn’t have access to do so. He was sure Samuel required his help and he was determined to find him.

Wild Child

Past Trauma

There were so many traumatic stories floating around about people who were left stranded after a terrible car accident and Tony couldn’t help but think about them. Tony was haunted by a story he had just heard before about a victim who was left and died five days post being found. There was no chance he was letting something like this happen to his son. Although he was panicking, he was aware it was too soon to call the police, but as soon as he could he filed a missing person report.

Past Trauma

The Waiting Game

The police began the search and told Tony and his wife to go home and wait to hear something. He understood that the search would take some time but he was becoming impatient waiting around while his son was in danger. He did not want to expect the worst but all he could picture is Samuel in a horrific car accident. He decided it was time to take the situation into his own hands.

The Waiting Game

Calling For Help

Tony came with a plan that would guarantee he would find Samuel. He couldn’t do it alone so he called his brother Michael to help him. Michael didn’t need any convincing and was willing to do whatever he could to help Tony find Samuel. They knew this plan wouldn’t be cheap so they rushed over to the ATM before they were on their way to the airport.

Calling For Help

A Special Favor

Tony and his brother got to the Lake Macquire Airport with money in hand and went to Lee Mitchell, who used to be a formal helicopter pilot and former owner of a helicopter rental business. Tony told Lee his idea that involved a helicopter search. He offered him $1000 and Lee agreed to help and declined the money.

A Special Favor

Refusing Pay

“When Tony first came to the office our CEO wasn’t here so our staff offered our services for as long as required for the $1000 offered, and we launched the helicopter in good faith and without payment,” director Lee Mitchell said. However, once the ordeal was said and done, Lee knew he wouldn’t keep the money. “Under the circumstances, we believe there has been enough stress on the family and that any additional financial stress was unwarranted,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Refusing Pay

Refusing Pay

One Great Uncle

The helicopter owner wasn’t the only one who saved the day and helped Tony with his plan. Since Tony was susceptible to air sickness and had a major fear of heights, his brother helped him and went on the journey instead.

One Great Uncle

Down Below

Tony was so stressed during the search especially since he had no control over what was going on. He was trying to stay positive that Lee and his brother would find Samuel, but he couldn’t help but be scared of what was to come. He hoped that they would not come back without his son.

Down Below

The Anticipation

Time was running out and Tony couldn’t handle the suspense any longer. He had no way to contact them and was beginning to feel guilty about not being in the air. He convinced himself that it was right to stay behind but he still felt sick to his stomach.

The Anticipation

After Fifteen Minutes

Michael and Lee so badly wanted to find Samuel. They looked around the area with the hope of finding something that would lead them to Samuel. They were getting worried that they wouldn’t find anything but after fifteen minutes they noticed something. They weren’t positive it was something that would help them.

After Fifteen Minutes

There’s Hope

The men noticed Samuel’s car which was located off PCH, close to Crangan Bay. They weren’t entirely sure if Michael was alive but now they spotted a car. In a later interview, Michael admitted it would have been unsuccessful to search for a car.

There’s Hope

The News

Tony was frantically waiting to hear something when they finally contacted him that they found Samuel’s car. He immediately drove to the location where the car was spotted. They couldn’t tell if there someone inside the vehicle so they had to get closer to be sure. Michael got out nearly 50 meters from the scene and Lee stayed above in the helicopter.

The News

Emotional Rollercoaster

It only makes sense that Tony couldn’t rest until he found his son and made sure he was alright. Things weren’t that easy, however. “Once we began the search, the roller coaster of emotions were obvious on the family and were put into overdrive when we found the car,” Mr. Mitchell explained. Once the car was found, the real stress began.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Emotional Rollercoaster

Staying Optimistic

Michael was getting closer to Samuel’s car when he started to get nervous to find the result. He started shouting his nephew’s name but heard no response. At that point, he was terrified at what he may find. He noticed Samuel’s head slightly move and he felt completely relieved. He called Tony to tell him his son was alive and he went to check if Samuel was okay.

Staying Optimistic

His Situation

Tony was pleased that Samuel was still breathing but that didn’t mean they were completely in the clear. He was in bad condition given he was in an accident that landed his car 20 yards off the road. Samuel was in critical condition with severe dehydration, fatal injuries, and a severe thigh bone fracture that stuck out of his skin. It was clear he needed to see a doctor right away.

His Situation

Ultimate Relief

Lee took part in the joy Tony and Michael felt when the car was discovered. Even more so when they found Sam breathing. “Obviously we were ecstatic when the signal from the ground was [indicated] that Sam was still alive, even though we were unaware of his condition. We have been very lucky to be able to help this family in their time of need and are looking forward to meeting Sam once he is well enough.”

Ultimate Relief

Ultimate Relief

Wasn’t Going To Be Easy

Samuel made a subtle head movement that showed a positive sign. They called an ambulance right away and it was clear that it would be a challenge taking Samuel from the car. They cut the car to pull him out, but they did it successfully.

Wasn’t Going To Be Easy

To The Hospital

After the emergency team removed Samuel, they brought him to John Hunter hospital where they stabilized him and sent him to intensive care for his surgeries. With everything he went through, it was clear it would not be an easy journey to recovery, but overall, he was going to be okay.

To The Hospital

The Road To Recovery

Tony spoke to a news outlet shortly after the discovery of his son. He updated them that Sam was released from intensive care and that his condition was slowly improving. He’d had surgery on his arm that was successful. Next, he had to get surgery on his injured leg.

The Road To Recovery

The Road To Recovery

Medical Expenses

“We recognize that the family will have many medical expenses in the future and wanted to contribute where we can.” Lee continued. It’s so comforting to know that there are people out there who genuinely care about others and their wellbeing. It truly gives us hope. Of course, no amount of money could compare to Sam being found alive. We’re sure the entire situation was more than stressful for the boy’s father.

Medical Expenses

Medical Expenses

Grateful

After Samuel was brought him safely, Tony knew he had something that he needed to do. To begin with, he and his wife to Lee Mitchell to give him the $1000 for finding their son. Although he initially refused the money, Tony insisted now that he found his son.

Grateful

Successful Mission

Despite his efforts, Lee refused the money and explained how happy he was that the mission worked out. He even admitted that the family would have many expensed to come and he wanted to help in any way that he could. This plan could not have been as successful if it hadn’t been for Tony, Michael, and Lee who worked together beautifully.

A Touching Tribute

As Samuel was recovering, his sister, Megan, posted a Facebook tribute to the helicopter company expressing her gratitude. She wrote: “Just wanted to let everyone know as if skyline aviation hasn’t done enough for my brother and family, they have refunded the $1000 to my family for the flight to find my brother,” she said. “It’s hard to believe that there are still some wonderful people in this world. I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.”

A Touching Tribute

A Touching Tribute

But How Did He Know?

After reading this story, I’m sure that many how wondered how is it possible Samuel’s father “knew” where to find him? I don’t believe many would have come up with the idea of renting a helicopter, but Samuel’s dad did. And there is a reason behind every act, so for some reason, Samuel’s father had a hunch that his son might be injured or in trouble in the middle of nowhere.

But How Did He Know?

But How Did He Know?

Aftermath

Why would the father decide to rent a helicopter and search the area where they found his son? Well as it turns out, amid all the uncertainty, stress, and worries, a bulb lit up in Tony’s head when he remembered that there had been a crash in that area and that the victim was found dead five days after. “I was not going to let that happen” Tonny pledged.

Aftermath

Aftermath

Dad Saves Son

After being trapped for 30 hours in a crashed car, Sam was rescued by his father who rented and helicopter to find him. He was immediately taken to the hospital after the paramedics arrived and saw how gravely injured he was. One of the injuries he suffered from was a bone sticking out of his thigh which is one of the facts indicating that the car crash must have been very bad.

Dad Saves Son

First Words

After going through something as traumatic as a car accident, it only makes sense for someone to have something serious to say afterward. They’ve had some time to ponder and think deeply about their life. Samuel was trapped for about 30 hours in that car, so clearly, he had a lot on his mind. Samuel’s first words to his father were: “I’d love a drink”. “They were the only words he spoke,” Mr. Lethbridge said.

First Words

First Words

Good, Tough Kid

Samuel’s dad described him as a “good, tough, and very fit kid”. In fact, he plays for Belmont-Swansea Football Club at a local under-19’s soccer competition. Additionally, Sam had just started an electrical apprenticeship days earlier, but obviously, that would have to be put on hold until he recovers. “He spoke to me when I got down to the car,” Mr. Lethbridge said. “I grabbed him and I said: ‘Mate, dad’s got you’.”

Good, Tough Kid

Good, Tough Kid

Road To Recovery Takes Long

Naturally, Sam lost consciousness after being trapped for so long in a car with all those injuries. Once his injuries were taken care of and Sam was stable, he regained consciousness but still could not move from the bed. The first time he managed to walk or even move, was only after three weeks of being in the hospital. But again he was so lucky that he’s father found him when he did

Son Ignores Dad Is A Hero

Sam could only walk there weeks after having been strapped in a bed for over three weeks. At the same time, he began talking and saying a few words. Three weeks since the accident occurred and yet no one spoke about it with Sam. He had not been told yet about the lengths that his father went to save his son: Pay $1000 to be able to do aerial research.

Son Ignores Dad Is A Hero

Why Would No One Tell Him Anything?

It is normal that after being on an accident one doesn’t recall exactly what happened or how he/she ended up in the hospital. But after having a near-death experience, one can become very easily overwhelmed, stress, and panic. None of these factors/emotions are optimal when one has just been in an accident. The most important thing is to not pressure or stress the patient and just let them recover fully without any worries in their minds.

Why Would No One Tell Him Anything?

No Connection To The Outside World

As the greatest father that Tony proved to be and the good care that the doctors took of Sam, they all denied him access to his phone or any other device with access to the internet so that would not see the news, reports, and what was being said about the accident. The last thing that Sam needed after his close encounter with death, was to feel overwhelmed or suffocated.

 

No Connection To The Outside World

No Connection To The Outside World

Injuries

It couldn’t come as a surprise that after being for 30 hours trapped in a crashed car with no one to take care of him, Sam would have several injuries. 17 to be exact. Let us remember that he almost dies in such a fatal accident. Besides suffering from a fracture in his thighbone, he also suffered three fractures to his arm, three fractures to his elbow, and a dislocated elbow. He took his first steps three weeks post-accident

Spotting The Sinister

Following his gut, Samuel’s father, Tony, decided to take the matter into his own hands a rent a chopper with his $1000 cash. He looked everywhere by earth and was unlucky with the search so trying by air was his last hope at that moment. His words were the following after finding his son: “If the helicopter wasn’t hovering above, I would have never had found him, because I couldn’t see him from the road”

What Allegedly Occurred

After carefully analyzing the area of the accident and the situation of the car, Tony’s first guess was that the car was circulating at a speed of 80 kph approximately when it deviated from the road. They believe that the car hit a concrete pole that shredded the driver’s door off and destroyed the car after this one spun rolled and finally landed on its wheels. The emergency services had to cut the vehicle open to set Samuel free.

What Allegedly Occurred

 

Operation Getting Helicopter

Tony went with his $1000 cash into the airport hoping to get a helicopter. Given that the CEO of the company was not there, the staff decides to provide Tony their services for as long as required and for the price that Samuel’s father was willing to pay. Without hesitation, the staff decided to launch the helicopter and do their best to find the 17-year old boy who had been missing for a few days.

Operation Getting Helicopter

Operation Getting Helicopter

There Are Good People In This World

Once Sam was rescued and safe in the Hospital, his parents went back to the airport to pay for the company’s services. However, a few days later the company decided to return the money to the family. They said that they had been under enough pressure already and that economic issues were the last thing they needed. They wanted to help also with the medical expenses that were surely going to be pricey.

Raising Money

Sam’s family needed financial help to take care of all his medical expenses. Thet tried to raise money by asking people if they could make small donations to help them go through this hard emotional and financial times. How did he do this? By creating a campaign named Sam Lethbridge’s road to recovery. Thankfully many people supported and helped them with their cause.

Raising Money

What’s Next?

Sam began the road to recovery intimately after his accident. As it is natural, after the terrible accident that he had, it would take him time to fully recover from his injuries. After three weeks he started with small steps which already was quickly and incredible. As his dad said, “he is a tough kid” At the same time, he started talking again and thankfully got on the right path to a healthy recovery.

What’s Next?

Happy Ending

Despite the horrible experience the whole family had gone through, we’re happy to report that things are going well for Sam and his family. Thankfully, he’s made a full recovery despite the fact that he’d gotten so injured. Luckily, the family can now put this ordeal in the past and move on.

Happy Ending

Happy Ending

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

From this intense story, we learn that the love parents shave for their children can conquer all and that while they are on their care nothing bad will ever happen to them. Tony proved to be so brave and full of hope in such stressful times. Police and other investigation entities may be helpful but what’s clear is that parents have an additional sense that connects them to their kids.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

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