Thursday, 5 June 2008 - 8:59am |
National News

Air Force joins search for missing Polish tramper

2 min read

An Iroquois helicopter from the Royal New Zealand Air Force 3 Squadron, Ohakea, will this morning join the intensified search for missing Polish tramper Jacek Grzybowski.

Inspector Mike Wright, Wellington Police District Search and Rescue, said the helicopter will be used to transport search teams into remote parts of the Rimutaka Forest Park, and to provide an extra aerial search capability.

Mr Grzybowski, a 28-year-old computer software engineer, has been working in Wellington since February. He went on a day tramp into the Rimutaka Forest Park on Saturday but has failed to return and has now spent five nights in the open.

Nearly 30 police and New Zealand Land SAR searchers spent yesterday combing tracks in the park, with four of the seven teams staying overnight in the bush.

Inspector Wright said the terrain is challenging with very dense bush off the side of tracks. "It's hard going for the search teams," he said. "It doesn't look far as the crow flies but it's taking some of the teams up to 12 hours to complete a tasking."

Police are increasingly concerned for Mr Grzybowski's safety as although he is wearing a rugged green and black Gortex jacket, sturdy pants and boots, and has a small black day pack, he was not equipped for several nights in the open.

"We know that he has some alpine experience in Poland and has spent most weekends since his arrival in Wellington a few months ago exploring our tracks. It's possible however that he's under estimated the time required and the type of terrain he'd encounter in the Rimutaka Forest Park," Inspector Wright said. "Our fear is that he has slipped and fallen off a track and hasn't been able to make himself seen or heard."

The last sighting of Mr Grzybowski was in Sunny Grove, Wainuiomata, about 9.20am on Saturday when he asked several residents for directions to the start of the Whakanui Track which has an entrance off the street.

"The weather forecast is expected to deteriorate in the next few days so we're doing everything possible now to find him," Inspector Wright said.

Additional police and civilian volunteers from the Wairarapa are also boosting the search today.

Police want to hear from anyone who was in the park over the weekend and who may have seen or spoken to Mr Grzybowski. People are asked to call 0800 TIPOFF - 0800 847 633.

Inspector Wright said Mr Grzybowski's family in Poland and his friends here in Wellington are anxious that he's found. Police are in regular contact with the Polish Ambassador and members of the local Polish community.


Released by:

Kaye Calder

Wellington Police District communications manager

Tel: 04 496 3464 or 0274 373 020