Mount Bogong hikers get to say thanks in person

Ben Briggs and Wes Hunter, pictured front centre with Heath Attard, Bob Flower, Andrew Evans, Steve McGuire and David Panozzo. The five men were part of the rescue mission which saved the duo from Mount Bogong. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Ben Briggs and Wes Hunter, pictured front centre with Heath Attard, Bob Flower, Andrew Evans, Steve McGuire and David Panozzo. The five men were part of the rescue mission which saved the duo from Mount Bogong. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

TWO stranded hikers rescued from Mount Bogong have had a chance to thank their rescuers in person.

Wes Hunter and Ben Briggs became stranded near the summit of the mountain about 4.30pm on July 5 as “atrocious” blizzard conditions set in.

The three civilian search and rescue teams who brought the duo to safety with police were recognised at a Victoria Police awards ceremony in Wangaratta yesterday.

Mr Hunter told a crowd of about 200 officers and their family members the crunch of ice as rescuers approached was “the most brilliant sound I’ve ever heard”.

“Without these guys here, we wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said.

“The weather conditions changed so quickly.

“Without the co-ordinated efforts of the volunteers ... we would have been there at least until morning.

“They were horrendous conditions.”

Mr Hunter has kept his tent and said the weather had been so bad, it looked like it had been sandblasted.

Addressing police in the audience, he joked he would never complain about a speeding ticket again.

The awards ceremony recognised officers for long service, with divisional and regional commendations for police officers for their work on a range of cases.

In noteworthy incidents, four officers were recognised for their work investigating crimes including an attempted murder, armed robbery and aggravated burglary.

Two officers were recognised for pulling over a vehicle in Wodonga in January which led the discovery of an extensive car rebirthing operation, and Sen-Sgt Gary Barton received an award for his role in detecting drug and alcohol drivers during a three-day music festival near Tocumwal.

Assistant Commissioner Jack Blayney said he was proud of the work of officers involved.

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