herald

Friday 28 April 2017

Hike mum lost for 6 weeks is found alive

Shelley Crooks
Shelley Crooks

A mother-of-four who went missing in New Zealand during a hike six weeks ago has been found alive after a "remarkable" survival in mountainous bushland.

Shelley Crooks (36) went for a four-day mountain hike before Christmas but disappeared after setting off from Punakaiki, a town on the South Island's rugged west coast.

She finally emerged at about 7pm on Sunday near a walking track not far from the town and was spotted by a hiker.

The rescuer gave her food and water and called emergency officials, who airlifted her to hospital.

Police said she injured her leg during her hike and then became disoriented but was able to slowly make her way out of the wilderness because of her strong bush skills.

"This is a remarkable story of survival," said police sergeant Michel Bloom.

"Ms Crooks set out to do a four-day walk in the Mount Bovis area when she became disorientated and sustained a leg injury.

"She was well-equipped and has extensive bush craft knowledge, enabling her to survive for six weeks as she attempted to make her way out of the bush."

John Crooks, her father, said that the family was delighted after a "terrible" six weeks.

"At this stage we don't know anything more than she's been found and we are just all grateful for it," he said.

"Just getting sightings everywhere sort of put us off the track of where she was."

Ms Crooks, who has twins (5) and children aged 11 and 12, has not yet spoken publicly.

Disoriented

During the search last month, Mr Crooks said his daughter was a strong hunter and frequently went on long hikes, leaving her children in the care of family members.

"She's very strong physically and is always trying to keep fit and do new things," he said.

"We've always been outdoor people ourselves - hunting, fishing. Shelley is a competent food gatherer, diver, and she has lived without power as well so she does have that skill level. Being alone doesn't bother her."

Police said they were "ecstatic" that she had survived.

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