A parent’s intuition can be very powerful and at times, almost psychic. So when a sense of dread settled over Australian father Tony Lethbridge after his 17-year-old son Samuel failed to contact him he knew he had to do something.
It was early Monday morning and 24 hour hours since anyone had heard from him. That his teenage son would go so long without saying anything to anyone was extremely out of character.
Samuel’s family, worried about his safety, reached out to police.
The response of local law enforcement frustrated Tony from the beginning.
“They told us that he might have ran away, he could have done this or he could have done that and we just said, ‘It’s out of character; it’s not him’.”
With the missing person’s report filed, police told Tony and his family to go home and wait. But waiting was something that Tony simply could not do.
“I just couldn’t get it out of my head that [Samuel had] crashed somewhere.”
There was a good reason for the father to believe so. The last anyone heard from the teen was a text message he sent his girlfriend early Sunday morning. They were supposed to meet “at the family home at Blacksmiths” at around lunchtime.
But he never made it.
Tony was suspicious that his son might have crashed along a specific stretch of road. Years earlier a driver had crashed and it was days before officers found him … he had died.
“That was in my head, so I just thought…I’m not going to sit around and wait.”
Instead of waiting, Tony took $1000 and rented a chopper. He couldn’t go himself as he struggles with flying, but he did the next best thing by getting his brother, Michael, to be part of the aerial search.
Only then did the worried father go back home to finally wait for news of his son.
It took 10 minutes.
The helicopter spotted a vehicle matching Samuel’s deep in the bush off the Pacific Highway near Crangan Bay. Samuel was alive inside the car, but he was in critical condition.
Tony rushed to the scene and was there as his son was pulled from the car. He was there to say what his teenage son needed to hear most:
“Mate, dad’s got you.”