Thursday 25 December 2014

Missing Irish woman 'lucky to be alive' after New Zealand hiking accident

Published 12/11/2013 | 10:39

The Irish woman was hiking in New Zealand
The Irish woman was hiking in New Zealand

AN Irish woman is "lucky to be alive" after she fell, was knocked unconscious and suffered hypothermia while hiking in an expansive national park.

Siobhan Flynn (35) survived only after she managed to find an American doctor who was also trekking in the 4,520 square kilometre Kahurangi National Park, on the country’s south island.

Ms Flynn, who is living in Melbourne, Australia, had been enjoying a trek through the park with five family members on Sunday before she went missing.

The group had set out on the trek at the beginning of the weekend and stayed on Saturday night at the Salisbury Hut in the park. 

They then set out for an area known as Karamea Bend on Sunday morning.

However, Ms Flynn became separated from the other four members of the group, who made it to the bend.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched after a family member made it back out of the park at an area called Mt Arthur and raised the alarm.

Police from the nearby city of Nelson appealed for anyone who had seen Ms Flynn to contact them.

She had minimal equipment and food with her when she went missing, was carrying a small backpack and wearing a red bandana.

However her family were relieved when Ms Flynn walked out of the park with the American woman at around 8pm on Monday (7am Sunday, Irish time).

Tasmin District Police Communications Manager Barbara Dunn has said Siobhan is “incredibly lucky” to have survived the ordeal.

“We’re calling it the luck of the Irish for Siobhan,” Dunn said on RTE Radio One News this afternoon.

“Siobhan is in reasonably good condition and is currently being interviewed by the police,” Barbara Dunn said.

“Kahuranga National Park is the largest national park in New Zealand.

“The chance of running into anybody is relatively slim and so she’s been incredibly lucky.”

Dunn said it is now understood Flynn spent the night on the forest floor.

“It appears she was unconscious for some hours from what she can recall she woke late in the day. She had a sleeping bag with her and slept in the forest area for the night and probably most of the next day as well,” Dunn said.

“It was about 3am when she made it to the hut,” Dunn continued.

“There was one person inside the hut and that person happened to be a doctor, she is an American woman. The woman treated Siobhan for mild hypothermia and dressed her head wound and then the pair trekked back to Nelson after a night’s sleep.”

A Nelson police spokesman told the Herald that Ms Flynn was understood to have fallen down a ditch and hit her head.

She was left unconscious for “more than a few hours” before managing to make it to lodging called the Kobb Valley Hut.

Amazingly, the American woman saying in the hut at the time was a doctor, who treated the Irish woman for hypothermia.

“She walked out of the park with the doctor at around 8pm on Monday our time.

“We believe she was unconscious for a very long time.

“She was very lucky to find the American doctor, who treated her for hypothermia,” a police spokesman for Nelson told the Herald.

“She’s ok now and doesn’t appear to have had to go to hospital,” he added.

Irish Independent

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