22 Apr 2012

Woman rescued after three days trapped in car

5:08 pm on 22 April 2012

A Whitianga man says he was thrilled to find his 74-year-old neighbour alive after her car crashed over a cliff and she spent three days trapped there.

Shirley Loft was winched to safety on Sunday morning by a helicopter and taken to Thames hospital with minor injuries.

Mrs Loft was found by a neighbour, Geoff Gillett, and his friend, Valance McLaughlin, who had been conducting their own search for her since she went missing on Thursday.

Mr Gillett says they initially saw some skid marks on Black Jack Road north of Whitianga and found a fragment of her car's bumper.

He says she had been trying to turn around but backed over the cliff.

Mrs Loft's car had come to a halt 100 metres down the cliff and she had got out of it and wedged herself between some tree branches.

Mr Gillett says she was overjoyed to see them and her first words were: "What the bloody hell are you doing here?".

A paramedic on the rescue helicopter Chris Deacon says despite going without food, water or shelter for three days Mrs Loft was in surprisingly good condition.

He says the cliff is very steep, but the bush growing on the cliff broke the fall of the car.

Police have praised the pair who found Mrs Loft saying their efforts certainly saved her life.