A pensioner who sparked an air rescue operation after being missing from his home for hours has been found safe and well.
A police helicopter was called into action after the 78-year-old man left his home address and became lost and disorientated.
He was found in the early hours of this morning in a wooded area of Ushaw Moor, Durham.
A call was received from concerned carers when they were unable to locate him at his home after he had been spotted walking away some hours earlier.
A helicopter from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) was called to assist in the search as officers became increasingly concerned for his safety as the weather began to deteriorate with heavy rain.
Following a search of the open and wooded area, the elderly man was located in the middle of woods in Deerness Valley.
Directed by the air helicopter, officer were directed through undergrowth to his location.
It took police 2 hours to lead him to safety.
Police say the assistant of the helicopter team ‘saved’ the man’s life.
He was subsequently taken to the University of Hospital North Durham for treatment.
A police spokeman said:“If it wasn’t for our colleagues from the National Police Air Service we may not have located this male during the night due to the location he was in and the deteriorating weather conditions.
“The outcome could have been so tragically different without the use of the aircraft.
“We are all pleased he is safe and well. When we found him he was off the track deep in the woods and was very cold and wet but uninjured.
“The helicopter has without doubt saved this gentleman’s life”.