Missing Byrne Valley woman found

2014-01-04 00:00

HER name scratched in the dust with arrows pointing to her direction, yesterday led rescuers to a missing Richmond woman, who was found scraped, dehydrated and hungry, but alive.

Ward councillor Goodman Madonda found Stephanie Leeston-Smith (63) in a steep ravine in a plantation not far from her home.

Leeston-Smith was reported missing from Byrne Valley near Richmond on New Year’s Eve.

Police dogs, motorbikes and a helicopter had combed the area since Wednesday searching for her.

Madonda told Weekend Witness that he was part of the search team. The words “Stephanie was here” with an arrow, and her jersey and handkerchief, found in the plantation led the team to where she was yesterday.

Madonda said as he helped in the search, he spotted Leeston-Smith in a ravine not too far from her house in the plantation.

Rescue leader Lieutenant Jack Haskins said yesterday they were all very relieved to find her alive.

He said she had walked up to three kilometres.

“On Thursday, one of the search team stood on the edge of the same ravine she was found in and called her name, but she did not respond. We are so happy that she was found alive.”

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said Leeston-Smith required emergency medical assistance.

“The 63-year-old was severely dehydrated and malnourished. She also suffered multiple cuts and abrasions, believed to have come from her falling down into the ravine,” said Vermaak.

Paramedics stabilised her on the scene after members of the SAPS Search and Rescue Unit pulled her out from the ravine to safety. She was later transported in a stable condition to Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg for further treatment.

Vermaak said Leeston-Smith was confused and could not provide clarity on the incident.

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