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Vital witness urged to come forward in search for Barbara Colling
9:10am Monday 11th February 2013 in News
A VITAL witness is being sought by police in the hunt for missing Helmsley woman Barbara Colling.
The man police want to trace was driving a dark-blue estate car south along the B1257 close to Newgate Bank, on Monday, January 28.
A witness has come forward to say they thougtht the man driving the car exchanged waves with the woman believed to be 68-year-old Mrs Colling as she walked along the road.
It is believed the driver has yet to speak to police.
Mrs Colling went missing from her Helmsley home two weeks ago.
Insp Andy Everitt, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “I am appealing to the driver of the blue estate-type car to come forward straight away as they may be able to give a more precise location as to where Barbara was last seen. I ask them to phone North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1 and pass the information to the Force Control Room.”
Meanwhile, a rescue volunteer had to be airlifted to hospital after injuring himself during the search for Mrs Colling.
The 39-year-old, from Newcastle, was flown to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough with a back injury after he fell during the search operation on Saturday. His condition is said to be stable.
About 130 people were involved in the search including more than 70 from five different search and rescue teams.
She was last seen walking near Helmsley on January 28, walking on the along the B1257 towards Stokesley. Mrs Colling suffers from dementia.
Yesterday, those involved in the search said the mountain rescue volunteer’s injury illustrated some of the difficulties the operation faced.
Barry Wallington, from Cleveland Mountain Rescue, said: “I suppose it does highlight the difficulty of this kind of activity.
“We’re working in some quite difficult terrain and trying to do it so carefully and go over quite difficult areas. That’s what we do, that’s why we train.”
Six search and rescue teams affiliated with the North East Search and Rescue Association (NESRA) took part in the search over the weekend.
It included teams from Northumberland, North of Tyne, Cleveland, Swaledale, Teesdale and Scarborough and Ryedale areas.
They have worked in tandem with North Yorkshire Police, which, in turn, has amassed a team of local volunteers to help comb the edge of the North York Moors near Helmsley and Rievaulx.
Mr Wallington said there were a number of obstacles to overcome with this particular search.
“All searches have their problems,” he said.
“Searching for people who have Alzheimer’s can be particularly problematic. Over the last ten to 15 years mountain rescue organisations have collected data on every single incident.
“All that data is corroborated and it gives us patterns of behaviour in missing people we can use in searches.
“But in someone with Alzheimer’s that behaviour can be unpredictable. Then add to that some difficult forest terrain and moorland terrain. It’s a very intensive search without a doubt.”