Belfast Telegraph

Search team is led by man who rescued woman in same park

By Ivan Little

The body of Dean McIlwaine was found on Cave Hill at the weekend by a team of volunteers led by the same man who rescued an injured German girl from the exact same area eight months ago.

Dean disappeared on July 13, just days after being best man at a family wedding in Cyprus.

His body was found in the country park on Saturday after a massive search.

One of those involved in the search was jogger Davey McCrum who discovered Sonja Klinger close to the famous rock formation known as Napoleon’s Nose in November.

She had lain injured for more than 24 hours after the wind swept her off the hill into a wooded area below as she took photographs.

Davey and his friend Richard Lamont searched for the Queen’s University student after coming across her bag and other personal items.

A rescue helicopter from Prestwick winched her to safety and flew her to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and she’s now recovering in Germany from her injuries.

Davey said he decided to search the same area where he found Sonja after hearing about Dean McIlwaine’s disappearance.

“I went there a few days ago, but the clothes I was wearing weren’t suitable.

“I was getting ripped to shreds so when I heard there was a full-scale search on Saturday at Cave Hill Country Park, I got the right gear and returned.

“They asked me to become a team leader because of what happened in November.

“I had a small team of volunteers with me on Saturday and it was noticed that the grass had been trodden down.

“Then a shoe was found and it was recognised by a member of Dean’s family who was with us.

“Shortly afterwards we found the body. It was a sad outcome to our search.”

By a bizarre twist of fate, Davey also found a shoe belonging to Sonja Klinger during the search on Saturday.

“I slipped down a bank and when I put my hand out it actually landed on Sonja’s shoe.

“In November I had always wondered why she was only wearing one shoe and there I was at the weekend finding the other one.”

Last year’s rescue inspired Davey and several of his friends to raise money for an air ambulance by climbing 12 mountains across Ireland.

And by another coincidence, Northern Ireland’s air ambulance took part in its first mission on the same day that Davey and his search team found the body of 22-year-old hairdresser Dean.

The helicopter airlifted an 11-year-old boy to hospital after he was injured in an accident involving a tractor near Castlewellan in Co Down.

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