Missing trampers’ fathers ‘hoping for the best’ as search enters fourth day

StuffThe fathers of two missing trampers are hopeful their children’s outdoor experience means they will be found alive.Tony Reynolds is enduring an anxious wait for news of his son. “It’s doing my head in,” he said. Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor, both 23, headed into the remote Kahurangi National Park, in remote western Golden Bay on May 9. On Tuesday, search and rescue teams began to scour the challenging terrain on the ground and from the air for the two missing trampers. READ MORE: * Aerial and ground searches grow as tramper search intensifies * Searchers find clues in hunt for trampers missing at Kahurangi National Park * No sign of missing trampers as search continues overnight On Thursday, search teams found “items of interest” – a historic campsite and footprints. Police are yet to confirm they were linked to the missing friends. Reynolds hadn’t seen his son since he moved back from Australia, where he had spent time living in the Outback, he said.SuppliedSearch and rescue teams continue to scour the Anatori River and its surrounds in the hope of finding 23-year-olds Dion Reynolds, left, and Jessica O’Connor, who entered Kahurangi National Park on May 9 but have failed to return. Dion was “very outdoorsy”, he said. “So is [Jessica], she’s done lots of bush courses. I can only hope they’re doing all right. They’re both together, they both have good experience.” Reynolds believed the duo were “reasonably well-equipped for six days or so.” However, as the days went by, his fears were mounting.Nina Hindmarsh/StuffThe Anatori River and catchment is the area of interest where search and rescue teams have been searching for the missing trampers over the last few days. “I think both would be getting in contact with us by now if they could. “I’m hoping that if one of them is hurt, they’re hunkered up and waiting for help.” “I can only hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Jessica’s father Mark O’Connor described his daughter as “resilient”. Her background in adventure tourism, horse riding, skiing and raft guiding, meant she was well-equipped for the outdoors, he said. “She’s a pretty resilient person, I can only hope that’s coming to the fore now.”Nina Hindmarsh/StuffSearchers continues at Anatori in Kahurangi National Park are looking for Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds. He thanked the police, and the SAR teams out looking for the duo. “I appreciate everyone’s input; and am hoping for the best outcome.” Extra resources were sent in to assist in the search on Friday morning. No heat or light sources were found by the Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter that searched inland from the Anatori River mouth overnight Thursday. The helicopter would continue to deploy be involved in the search and help with logistics on Friday. A drone would continue to be used. Both ground and air searchers commented on the density of the bush on Thursday which made searching difficult.Nina Hindmarsh/StuffSearch and rescue teams are based at the Anatori River car park. Search management had been making extensive enquiries to corroborate differing reports of the expected return date of the pair. Police are asking for anyone who has been around the Anatori, Webb, Kokopu, Independent and Fraser Rivers since May 8 and who may have seen the pair to get in touch. Anyone with information should contact Police on 105 and quote event number P042228949.Stuff
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