Derbyshire councillor lost on Croatian island for five days 'thought he was going to die'

Volunteer mountain rescue team members - who saved a Ripley councillor lost for five days on a Croatian island - have been honoured at the latest Derbyshire police awards.

Ripley town councillor David Williams had set out at the end of his holiday on Mljet Island to reach the highest point, Veliki Grad, but found the going tough.

Left to right: Neven Putar, Josip Granic, CC Peter Goodman, Sarina Kalebota and Marijo Begic.

Left to right: Neven Putar, Josip Granic, CC Peter Goodman, Sarina Kalebota and Marijo Begic.

He turned round and tried to make his way down the slopes but became hopelessly lost - quickly eating and drinking the few things he had taken with him.

The alarm was raised after a member of staff who had rented the car to David recognised the vehicle parked in a small town and became concerned for his safety.

After five days of searching a 100 strong team of volunteers finally managed to find David – who thought he was going to die.

David was transferred to Dubrovnik Hospital, where he spent a further five days recovering, before returning to the UK.

PC Richard Morris with his award.

PC Richard Morris with his award.

Three members of the Croatian Mountain Rescue team, Neven Putar, Josip Granic and Marijo Begic, who took part in the rescue - along with Sarina Kalebota from the British Consulate in Croatia - attended the awards evening at Derbyshire County Cricket Club last Tuesday evening.

Marjio Begic, who was in charge of the search and rescue mission, said: “There are only one or two actual walking paths in the area where David was – if you miss those paths then you

can get lost very easily.

“The search area was about 10km in size in a national park – we were very concerned as the days went by but we never stop looking for someone when they are missing.

PC Mark Durham with his award.

PC Mark Durham with his award.

“I was so pleased when we found him alive but, with how long he had been out there, we were very concerned. It took several hours to get him down the mountain and thankfully he

made a full recovery.”

Sarina Kalebota, who helped liaise between Derbyshire police officers and the mountain rescue teams on the ground, was praised by DC Sarah Baker, who spoke with David’s

family back in Derbyshire.

She said: “Sarina was absolutely fantastic. She went above and beyond to help pass key information between officers in the UK and the rescue team. Without her the search for David would have been unable to happen – she was absolutely instrumental in ensuring he was found safe and well.”

David, who also attended the awards, said: “I owe a massive debt of gratitude to all those who helped in the search.

“I really did think that I wasn’t going to be found alive but I was so happy to see the big rescue dog bound round the corner.

“No words can ever really explain how much I owe to them.”

'Lifesaver'

Also commended at the awards were PC Richard Morris and PC Mark Durham.

PC Morris was on duty with colleague PC Dave Naylor responding to another incident when they noticed a man stood close a bridge over the A38.

When they approached the man they realised there was another person on the wrong side of the railings.

The man, who it is understood was suffering from PTSD following tours of duty with the armed services, was uncommunicative with PC Morris.

He said: “All of a sudden he said ‘I’m off’ and just stepped off the bridge. Me and his friend managed to grab hold of his jacket and keep him from falling.

“Fortunately it was a good quality jacket and was able to hold his weight – we managed to get him back onto the safer side of the railings.”

The man struggled to his feet and attempted to once again to get to the edge but was finally restrained and taken to hospital to receive treatment.

PC Morris said: “In the moment you don’t have time to think you just act – I know any officer would do exactly the same thing.”

Sex attacker caught

Being in the right place at the right time is often down to luck – but PC Mark Durham married that luck with a good memory when he finally caught a serial sex attacker.

PC Durham was working in his role in a ANPR equipped car when he missed a parking space he was looking for.

He said: “As I turned the car around I almost clipped this bloke wheeling a bike and who was paying no attention to where he was walking.

“That morning I had seen on the briefings the CCTV pictures of the man wanted for more than 22 sex attacks in the city centre – and there he was stood in front of the car.”

The man was swiftly arrested and taken to the station.

PC Durham said: “It was only while I was sitting writing the statement that I started to think about what was happening when I saw him.

“When you turn the emergency lights on in the car a video begins recording.

“On the footage you can see that just ahead of him was a young woman wearing a skirt. He was off the bike, hood up and was so fixated on her he didn’t even notice when we turned

the lights on.

“I am sure that, had we not been there, he would have assaulted that woman. Fortunately, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

Csaba Kiss, the man PC Durham arrested, was jailed for three years and three months for 22 sex attacks – the youngest victim was just 13.