Missing exploration worker rescued

An exploration worker who went missing on Monday afternoon was successfully located and rescued yesterday.

Paul Lesperance, a 47 year old exploration worker was due to report back to the St Ives mine at 3:30pm on Monday afternoon, but failed to do so.

His vehicle was found a couple of kilometres from the Coolgardie-Esperance highway.

Police and SES volunteers were deployed, as well as helicopter search, and the man was spotted from a fixed wing aircraft at approximately 11:30am on Tuesday.

Lesperance had already seen the plane, and was waving his hi-viz shirt in the air.

It took about an hour for the ground crews to reach him, which included Goldfields company vehicles from the St Ives mine.

Kambalda Police sergeant Justin Tarasinski said Lesperance had left his vehicle to perform exploration duties.

“He parked up the vehicle to map an area in a grid on foot, and was doing a certain section each day,” he said.

After his GPS equipment malfunctioned, Lesperance tried to make his way back but became disorientated and couldn’t find his vehicle.

Police said Lesperance found an area called Half Way Dam, that was approximately 4-5 kilometres away from where his vehicle was, and that’s where he remained until he spotted the search plane, and flagged them down.

It is thought that Lesperance was not able to trigger his Electronic Position Indicating Distress Beacon (EPRIB) as it was part of the same unit as the malfunctioning GPS.

Sergent Tarasinki said Lesperance had acted in the correct manner by remaining at his location.

“So long as people are aware that you’re supposed to be somewhere, and you haven’t returned, they’ll notify the authorities, and searchers will come looking for you,” Tarasinski said.

“The main rule of thumb is to generally to stay with your vehicle, but if that’s not the case then just stay put and allow searchers to come to you.”

Australian Mining has contacted mine operator Gold Fields for comment.

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