19th February 2024, Mount St. Benedict Trinidad W.I.

A local family of four are praising the work of the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service (TTPS), Trinidad & Tobago Fire Service and the local independent group Hunters Search and Rescue Team for rescuing them after they got lost during a hike near Mount St Benedict on Saturday 17th February 2024.

A statement from the TTPS said the family contacted the police’s E999 command centre at 5.30 pm on Saturday, where officers of the Northern Division Operational Centre were notified.

The police service’s air support unit and officers of the Fire Service were also contacted.

Police said the family reported that around 4.40 pm, they started a hike along the northern range close to the popular flag site near the Mount. On their way back they were unable to find a way out.

“Insps Rampallard and Beepot, officers of the Air Support Unit and fire sub-officers John-Baptiste Reid and fire officers from the Tunapuna Fire Station formulated a search and rescue plan. While piloting a drone over the mountainous terrain, Rampallard spotted the family in a forested area. The information was then downloaded from the drone to pinpoint the exact location of the hikers, who were rescued at 9.18 pm by a team consisting of the fire service and the Hunters Search and Rescue Team,” the release stated.

KVR Energy’s Drone Division has confirmed that one of the drones utilized in this rescue operation was the Teledyne FLIR SIRAS together with multiple enterprise level drone resources utilized by the TTPS Air Support Unit. This was certainly not the first operation that was successfully executed with this drone, but one that we can proudly share as the family was rescued and reunited with relatives. SIRAS provided best-in-class thermal imagery, mission flexibility, and secure data, enabling the pros to get the job done.

The family, who are TikTokers by the name “Preston & Juliet Mom” later posted about their experience.

“We got lost. When we realized we took the wrong path down and it was getting dark quickly we called 999 around 6.30 pm after getting a somewhat flat area to sit with the kids. While waiting for help to arrive Mr Preston (referring to one of the children) decided he needed a snooze. Vishal gave up his t-shirt as Preston needed some extra warmth while he was asleep.

“Apparently the area is known for mapepire snakes so glad we didn’t encounter any of these poisonous creatures as they are easily agitated. Everyone was on the phone with us every ten minutes. Silently praying in my head. Hoping they arrive soon I wasn’t worried about myself but the kids being uncomfortable and Juliet (the second child) was getting hungry,” the post added.

The family members said they were relieved to be rescued by 8.44 pm.

“Starting the trek back down with all the help of these amazing people we are grateful to have met. Special thank you to police services, firefighters, Hunters Search and Rescue and the residents of the area that assisted.”