An 85-year-old man was found miles from his nursing home more than 24 hours after he first went missing, having survived the night trapped in a 15ft-deep ditch. The family of Joseph Hughes, who has dementia, have thanked the emergency services and public after he was found safe and alive.Mr Hughes left his nursing home in Porthcawl at around 12.50pm on Saturday, August 14, leaving his family frantic as they tried to trace his steps.A huge search effort commenced as soon as the alarm was raised, including help from the RNLI, various emergency services and the local community. However, hope diminished when Joseph still hadn't been found by Sunday morning.Luckily Mr Hughes was eventually found alive that afternoon, in a ditch near Newton Nottage roundabout. His family said it was thanks to the amazing community and emergency effort as well as one woman's intuition that he was discovered.
Mr Hughes' daughter-in-law, Linda Hughes, said: "It was so painful as the night went on, it was heartbreaking to know someone you love is out there in the dark, completely lost and absolutely terrified with no hope of getting back out again."Thankfully, he was alive and responsive. Linda said she was "astounded" when she learnt how her father-in-law had been discovered."A lady called Amy who works with the search and rescue helicopters at Saint Athan actually found him", she explained. "She was off duty on Sunday and she said she couldn't sleep all Saturday night because she had Joseph on her mind as they couldn't get the helicopter out."When she woke up on Sunday, she told her husband and two young children she needed to get out and couldn't rest until he was found.
"She lives in Cardiff and drove all the way to Porthcawl, and with her knowledge of where someone might go and her knowledge of the area, she decided to search on her bicycle where she thought he might be. She said she got drawn to where he was. I called her Amy the Angel, because I think she was."
Linda said Amy hadn't seen or heard Mr Hughes, but that she simply felt he might be in that area due to everything she knew at that point. She shouted for him and heard a noise and knew he was there, Linda said."The area is densely covered with trees and bracken and he had fallen straight through it all. It was about 15 to 16 foot deep," Linda said.
"You couldn't see him in there and nobody walks along that path. We'd driven up and down that path numerous times and we didn't see anything to suggest there was any movement and nobody had sighted him there.
"He'd not eaten or drank anything since 1pm the previous day and he wasn't dressed for lying outside, he had trousers and a T-shirt on."Linda said Mr Hughes stayed at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend overnight on Sunday and was "relatively unscathed" apart from some scrapes and dehydration. She said he was now back and settled at his care home, much to the relief of all his carers.Linda added: "It's an incredible journey we've been on and we're full of relief, but we're astounded by the care and the compassion that everybody gave Joseph, particularly Amy, who was there just because she felt she had a duty of care."
You might also like: