Missing woman survived on own breast milk in New Zealand

THE mother of two who went missing while running in Rimutaka Park in New Zealand yesterday drank some of her own breast milk to keep her going.

There were emotional scenes as Susan O’Brien was returned by rescuers to her family this morning.

Her parents, husband and children had all been waiting at the entrance to the Orongorongo Track where she started a race yesterday.

Ms O’Brien told reporters she took a wrong turn on the run.

“I’m not a very good orienteering woman.”

She said she was very cold and wet overnight and often thought she would not make it.

“I definitely thought I was going to die.”

However, to keep warm, she dug a hole in the ground.

Missing runner Susan O’Brien is reunited with her family – father Andrew Khoo, mother Maggie Khoo and husband Daniel O’Brien – after being found in the Rimutaka Forest Park. Photo / Mark Mitchell

What got her through were thoughts of her children, she said.

“Nothing else mattered but my family.”

Much of her time was used to pray, she said.

“I felt God with me the whole time.”

The ordeal has not put her off track running, she said.

Her husband, Daniel O’Brien said he never gave up hope of her returning.

Ms O’Brien’s father, Andrew Khoo, said he was very happy to have his daughter return.

“Thank you everyone for helping,” he said.

“I am very happy to see my daughter come back.”

Ms O’Brien’s mother, Maggie Khoo, could not stop tears from flowing and hugged her daughter when she arrived.

Police had earlier confirmed a sighting after a member of the public said they spoke to a woman matching her description in the Orongorongo Valley yesterday.

The 29-year-old Wellington woman had been missing since yesterday after she failed to finish a trail run in the hills near Wainuiomata.

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A search and rescue operation was launched yesterday when the runner failed to appear out of the hills.

Police believe she may have taken a wrong turn and became lost trying to find her way back to the trail.

A member of the public told police they spoke to a woman matching the 29-year-old’s description at Haurangi Hutt late yesterday morning.

At 7am this morning, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter began searching the area with heat detection equipment in an attempt to locate her.

Additional Land, Search and Rescue teams from the Horowhenua and Wairarapa were also in the area and began searching at around 8am.


Henry Sapiecha

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