IT was almost halfway through the third day of searchers slogging through the hip-high grass looking for missing horse trainer Bindi Cheers that senior police decided it was time to try a new tactic.
Dozens of officers and State Emergency Service volunteers had joined mounted police, dog squad, police rescue and helicopters in the dramatic search for the 44-year-old since she walked away from her horse float at Beresfield on Sunday afternoon.
The police suspected that Cheers, who had left Hawkesbury races in a distressed state after separate run-ins with stewards over the poor performance of one runner and the scratching of a second, could well be actively avoiding the search parties.
There had been the brief encounter with a truck driver at the end of the M1 Motorway on Tuesday afternoon, where she answered to her name but ran back into bushland instead of inviting help, and some other evidence found in the bushland near the John Renshaw Drive roundabout.
So just after midday on Wednesday, searchers packed up, hoping Cheers would resurface without the fuss being made about her.
And as a police rescue truck drove along John Renshaw Drive to head back to Newcastle at 1.20pm, that is what she did.
They found her crossing the road and spoke with her, with Cheers appearing dazed and confused but able to converse in some form, before she again took off for the bushes.
But they were able to grab her before paramedics arrived and took her off to Maitland Hospital for treatment and a psychiatric assessment.
After almost three days missing, Cheers’ family and friends were overjoyed.
“It is a big relief, a huge relief, and at least now she can get the treatment that she needs,’’ husband Peter Cheers said.
“It’s great to have her back.’’
The happy ending didn’t look that way after Cheers had left Hawkesbury races and spoken with some family and friends before leaving the horse float at a service station and taking off.
But the confirmed sighting on Tuesday – where the truckie identified a shirt with a lion motif which belonged to Cheers – buoyed everyone that she was still alive.
And she was – distressed, a little dehydrated, dirty and needing treatment – but still alive.
- Lifeline – 13 11 14