Helicopter Pilot Spots Message Written In Sand, Takes Swift Action

A British man was rescued after being stranded for two days in Queensland, Australia’s far north after he wrote “Help” in the sand.

Geoff Keys, 63, was on an “adventure before dementia,” as he called it, when he became lost in a remote area, he wrote in a post for his blog Motopangaea.

Keys wrote that he was camping with two families in Cape York’s Jardine National Park in July when he walked about 1.2 miles to swim under a waterfall. He got lost when he swam along the creek on July 27.

At the time, he was barefoot and wearing only shorts, a T-shirt and a hat, according to his blog.

He eventually realized he was unable to find the falls, so he decided to go back to camp. That was when Keys made what he called “one of the stupidest decisions ever.”

“Instead of turning around and swimming back upstream I decided to take to the bush and cut across to the track. It was nearly dark and I had no shoes. What was I thinking of?” Keys wrote.

 He wandered the bushes the following morning until 2 a.m., the Brisbane Times reported.

He eventually found a different waterfall and settled for the night. When he could not find tracks in the morning he decided to swim downstream. That was around the time that the other campers called the police to help with an aerial search.

 “As the morning went on, I heard helicopters over in the distance and guessed they were searching for me,” Keys wrote. “It meant that I had been reported missing by my friends and also brought home to me what a terrible night they must have had, wondering where I was.”

Keys swam until he came to a sandbank. He took a stick and wrote his message in the sand, “HELP . 2807” which was the date. He also included an arrow marking his direction of travel. He was 7 miles from camp, reported The Guardian.

After two days, search and rescue coordinator Senior Constable Brad Foat was about to re-route his pilot to a new area because there had been no indications of Keys’ location in the dense woods.

Keys was eventually rescued when Foat saw him from a helicopter.

Foat reportedly told Keys, “Mate, you’ve got a lot of worried people back home,” which reportedly made Keys laugh even though his hand was clenched on the officer’s.

Sources: Brisbane TimesThe Guardian

Photo credit: Queensland Police, Wikimedia Commons