Grieving family thanks police and searchers

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
SES members at Bluff Knoll.
Camera IconSES members at Bluff Knoll. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The family of Lorjie Bautista, pictured, whose body was found at Bluff Knoll last week has expressed its gratitude to volunteers and police officers for their rescue efforts.

There were more than 120 volunteers and other emergency services personnel involved throughout the six-day search and rescue operation at Bluff Knoll.

A police helicopter, a private helicopter, a drone and two search dogs were also involved in the search for the 39-year-old.

Great Southern police Acting Superintendent Alex Ryan said it was a sad ending but he praised the efforts of State Emergency Service volunteers in searching “arguably some of the most difficult terrain in the State”.

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Acting Superintendent Great Southern Region Alex Ryan.
Camera IconActing Superintendent Great Southern Region Alex Ryan. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Speaking from her home in the Philippines, Mrs Bautista’s older sister Dylin Bueno said she would like to thank everyone for their dedication to finding her sister.

“Thank you to Alex Ryan for handling the case of my sister. He is really a great officer. He has passion and long patience not giving up to saw the result of the case (sic),” she said.

“Thank you to the rescuer and volunteer for all the hunger and tiredness, struggles in the mountain they felt but they gave the best to give us, satisfaction of the case (sic).” Mrs Bautista’s husband, Anand, who travelled from Mandurah to Albany with their 15-year-old daughter, also thanked the searchers for never giving up.

“Though it wasn’t a happy ending ... I know deep down in my heart, I would like to thank the whole WA Police, SES volunteers and all the people who helped and put all their efforts looking for Lorjie,” he said.

“Without you guys, I don’t think I will see my wife again.”

Mrs Bautista’s body was found in dense bush near the foot of a steep incline on the north face of one of WA’s highest peaks. A report will be prepared for the State coroner.

SES Great Southern district officer Gary Logan said his team had remained hopeful through the search. “We got volunteers in from Albany, Gnowangerup, Mt Barker, Denmark, Wagin, Kondinin as well as South West teams from Bunbury, Manjimup and Margaret River,” he said.

“It was very trying and with the nature of where we are, even the logistics of keeping them fed and taking some food and water to the volunteers was pretty difficult at times.”

Police officers last week laid a wreath at Bluff Knoll in Mrs Bautista’s memory.

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