Text Messages Save Tourist Stranded on Mountain
On Saturday, 30-year-old Marios Symeonidis was separated from his traveling companion when he went for a short walk to take photos of a waterfall on Mount Ruapehu, a popular skiing and snowboarding location, reported the Times Online today.
When Symeonidis failed to return, his friend sent for the local police who immediately began a search and rescue operation in the area. In the meantime, Symeonidis-who was unprepared to spend the night in the mountains and was only wearing light clothing-began sending text messages to his family in Greece.
Symeonidis' family then relayed the messages to the New Zealand police via the Greek emergency services.
"The texts stated that he was lost but not injured and at one point indicated that he could see a police 4 x 4 vehicle on the mountain," said Senior Sergeant Marty Edghill, of New Zealand police to the Times. However, Symeonidis could not reach the vehicle because a swiftly flowing stream separated them.
As light faded, four search teams, including a helicopter, combed the area. Once darkness fell, Symeonidis was forced to spend the night on the mountain. Luckily, it was a warm night.
The next morning, Symeonidis followed the mountain stream until reaching a main road, where another tourist picked him up around 10 a.m. local time. He was then driven to the location where rescue teams were assembling and airlifted to a nearby town to be checked by medics.
Police said Symeonidis appeared fit and well, apart from being cold and tired from a night in the wilderness.
"It was a good option to use his cellphone," said search and rescue controller John Pitchford to the New Zealand Herald. "He was not injured but he was hungry - he ate all of the chocolate and muesli bars out of my pack and most of my water. He is happier now he is back with his mate and they have driven off to catch the ferry to go to the South Island."