Derbyshire man dramatically rescued after spending four days lost on Croatian mountain
A Derbyshire man who planned to climb a 1,626ft Croatian peak ended up spending four days lost without food or drink.
It left Ripley town councillor David Williams as the focus of an operation involving 100 volunteers, fire crews, a helicopter, the British Consulate and Derbyshire police.
David was found drowsy and with a raging thirst but remarkably well after his ordeal.
He spent five days in Dubrovnik Hospital before flying home and returning to work as a book-keeping tutor at Chestefield College.
The 60-year-old had set out with an apple, pear and an orange, plus a two-litre bottle of water.
David trekked through wooded Mljet Island and planning to reach its highest point, known as Veliki Grad.
“Half way up, I gave up on the idea and decided to come down. I got well lost and remained on the hills from June 1 to June 5,” he said.
“I had eaten all the fruit and drank all the water on the first day and the mobile phone was weak.”
Hotel staff raised the alarm when he failed to return. He tried to get help by shouting in the forest and waving tree branches.
Eventually, he was found by two volunteers and their Alsatian dog Jerzy after he had been heard yelling: “Hello, I am up here.”
Back home, he said: “It was the lack of water which was the worst thing. I was really glad to see that dog and get some gulps of water. I had been optimistic but after three days I started to think, ‘this is it, I will be found dead.’
“I just kept walking and stopping to shout and then shake the branches. My shoulder bag was empty and I just used it for a pillow when I slept.”
After being home for two days, he went back to college to help his students with exam work.
He paid tribute to the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, which is a volunteer, not-for-profit group.
Although his phone was not working properly, it offered vague clues to his location on the island - which has only around 2,000 regular inhabitants.
David said: “I was never under any threat from animal or human as I never met a soul for the four days I was in the hills, apart from birds and frequent flying insects which I was usually successful in beating off.”