Friday 18th Feb 2005
International Rescue Corps were drafted in to the search for the missing Hull women Joanne Nelson.
Joanne went missing on Valentines Day. IRC, as search and rescue specialists, put in an offer of assistance to Humberside Police and were given various areas to search where Joanne may have been.
The Corps utilised its skills in navigation to grid search areas and then explore every possible zone within the grid. This included various types of landscapes and terrains and called upon IRC’s strong coordination skills to search particular areas effectively.
The weather at the time was atrocious, with huge snowfalls hampering the search.Working closely with the police and with a very comprehensive brief of what to look for, an area of 800 square miles was searched. At that time nothing was found. The Corps worked on an ad hoc basis with the police over the next several weeks.
24th March 2005
A couple of IRC members were called upon to assist a small police team (5 officers and a search dog). New intelligence from various experts now indicated that we were looking for certain types of trees which were indigenous to the area; Western Hemlock (a type of pine tree) and Birch trees. The team of 7 then proceeded to search the locality also still looking for a metal gate as indicated a number of weeks ago. The dog was used to sweep search the area before we were allowed in to line search.
Late afternoon we received a call from DS Ray Higgins indicating that he had found a body. He had left our location and was sweeping the general area. It was totally random that he found that particular metal gate and wood. The team were routed directly to the area some 3 miles away from where we were searching. This area had not been searched previously and was scheduled to be done either the same day or Friday. Both IRC members then searched the roads around the perimeter of the wood to see if there were any other entrances into the wood (to prevent the public from gaining access to the crime scene). We noted various entrances and reported this back to the police.
The duty Sergeant soon arrived and then specifically requested that IRC be involved in the search of the area to look for Joanne’s personal effects. We and various police officers began the search of dense woodland and pine trees. A line search was set up however the light began to fade and we were instructed to cease. The search would resume the following day – nothing was found. Joanne’s body was formally identified the next day.
IRC were very proud to be involved in this search. Members from all over the north of the UK assisted in the search and even though the find was not positive at least Joanne’s family have some closure and she can now be left to rest in peace.
Julie Ryan, Assistant Operations Director
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