Teen found alive after 30 hours trapped in car at Lake Macquarie thanks to father’s intuition

Emergency services had to cut the 17-year-old free from the vehicle. Picture: SuppliedA father who hired a helicopter to search for his missing son said the gamble paid off, when the chopper spotted the teen’s wrecked car in the bush at Lake Macquarie.

Samuel Lethbridge, 17, was missing for about 30 hours after the car he was driving left the Pacific Highway at Crangan Bay and ended up in bushland about 20 metres from the road.

After the wrecked car was spotted by the helicopter about 10.20am on Monday, emergency services rushed to the scene where they found the teenager trapped in the car.

It took rescue crews about an hour to cut the teen free from the wreck. He was then taken to John Hunter Hospital with an ankle injury, a fractured forearm and a compound fracture to his femur, an ambulance spokesman said.

His father Tony Lethbridge told Sunrise he knew his son must have been in trouble when he failed to show up as expected.

“Well everybody was saying he’s probably run away … [but] that’s just not Samuel,” he said.

“His mates were telling us he was a bit tired when he dropped his mate off on the Central Coast so it was the only thing we could reallythink of.”

Mr Lethbridge said a similar crash happened in the area about five years ago, so he had to go looking.

The car was spotted about 20 metres from the roadway near Crangan Bay. Picture: Supplied

“I can’t leave him out there without looking so yeah we went and hired the helicopter straight away and found him within ten minutes,” he said.

Samuel’s uncle Michael Lethbridge was in the helicopter when they found the car. Looking shaken, he said it was a strange feeling to find the vehicle.

“It was an absolute wreck, and I was a little bit afraid of what I might find,” he said.

Sam’s dad said it was lucky they found Samuel when they did.

“They said he wouldn’t have lasted a great deal longer,” Mr Lethbridge said.

The 17-year-old remains in a serious condition in hospital after having surgery on Monday night for his leg fracture. Mr Lethbridge said his son was in intensive care, but he was getting better.

“He’s still got a dislocated elbow, his right arm is broken, he’s got a few other bits and pieces but he’s on the mend,” he said.

Officers from the Lake Macquarie Local Area Command were investigating the cause of the crash, and police urge anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.