Dog keeps missing man, 82, alive
Chris Ndaliso, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - An 82-year-old man has survived two nights and two days in the open with the help of his pet, a 5-year-old German Shepherd.
Lewis Stone's dog Misha lay on his chest to keep him warm and by day Misha stuck with his master until they were discovered in a steep valley off Oswald Shearer Drive, Wembley, at about 17:00 on Monday.
Stone went missing on Saturday afternoon after he had parked his bakkie opposite the Prestbury police station and took Misha for a walk in the plantations above.
The search began that evening when he did not return home by 20:00, and continued throughout Sunday.
On Monday, family, neighbours and Prestbury police divided into search groups and continued combing the thick bush in the plantation behind the police station off Ashby Road.
Stone’s family had started searching at about 05:00.
Cry for help
As the search continued with no positive feedback by afternoon, someone heard a cry for help in the valley.
Hayley Graves said she had just returned home from work when her father said he could hear a shout for help in the thick bush.
“Our property leads into the valley so I just crawled into the thick bushes, sometimes having to break branches. Since I had read about Mr Stone in The Witness I assumed that it was him calling so I called him back by his surname, urging him to keep shouting so that I could get the direction where he was. I was a bit scared, but I couldn’t turn back.
“A woman from one of the homes around also joined in, shouting for him to keep shouting until I got to him,” said Graves.
She said Stone was quite weak when she got to him and he started talking about his family and that he had been lying there for two nights without anything to eat.
“I held his hand and assured him that help was on its way as I had called the police already. Misha was sitting right next to him. He said at night he would hold Misha for warmth and that the true friend never left his side,” she said.
Paramedics examined Stone before bringing him to safety.
Search party leader Warrant Officer Jack Haskins said he had fallen about 30 metres down the steep embankment.
“Given his age and time he spent in the open with no food or water, it’s a miracle that he survived. He’s a strong man and he has a true friend in Misha. He kept him alive,” said Haskins.
When the news came that Stone had been found, his daughter-in-law Alison Stone said: “This is indescribable, it’s a miracle. Our family will never be able to thank everyone for their support during this trying time.”
She said that when Stone was brought up to safety he thanked everyone who was there for their help.
He was taken to Medi-Clinic for treatment of a head injury. The circumstances surrounding his fall are unclear at this stage.