|On 9 December 2006, 17 year old David Iredale and three mates went for a hike in the Blue Mountains as part of their Duke Of Edinburgh Award program. They planned it pretty carefully and they had detailed maps and stuff.But it all went terribly wrong: the maps indicated a fresh water source along the route, which wasn’t there. It was hot – mid-30s centrigrade- and they’d run out of water.
Somehow, David became separated from his mates – my recollection is that as the strongest of the hiking party, he struck out ahead of the others to seek assistance.He became severely dehydrated and rang emergency services on his mobile phone.It was very poor reception but he tried to get across to the operators the dire circumstances of his plight. He made a number of calls, to no avail. Various operators kept asking for his street address. He kept telling them he was on a big rock near a walking trail in the Blue Mountains. But they kept demanding his street address. He asked for a helicopter to be sent. He was told off for being abusive.
In the event, nobody did anything. David’s body was recovered some days later.
Each year at this time, I reflect on this terrible episode and remind myself to be not indifferent to the plight of others. I tell my kids, if you get into any sort of real trouble, you ring me and/or your mother FIRST; we might argue later, but we’ll address the trouble first.
And I light a candle in memory of David.