A MUM facing a third Christmas without knowing what has happened to her missing son faced a fight for life after the stress of her ordeal triggered a brain haemorrhage.
Hartlepool man Scott Fletcher has not been seen since vanishing on May 11, 2011 and more than two-and-a-half years on, his family are no further forward in their search for answers.
The stress of Scott’s disappearance is believed to have sparked a health scare for his mum Julie, which saw her have brain surgery and spend seven weeks in hospital being treated for a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage, a stroke caused by bleeding in and around the brain.
Julie collapsed while working at St Hild’s C of E Secondary School, and was taken to One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, before being transferred to the University Hospital of Hartlepool and then to the University Hospital of North Tees.
After undergoing scans she was immediately transferred to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where she had needed lifesaving brain surgery and then spent three weeks in the high dependency unit, two weeks on an adjacent ward and a further two weeks undergoing rehabilitation.
Julie said: “People have said to me it’s stress.
“I need to see the consultant this week, but I believe stress has been a big part of it.
“People have said to me ‘you are going to have to try and put it to one side’, but how can you when it’s your child?”
Julie, who lives in Bishop Cuthbert with husband John, said on the day she collapsed, on September 17, she had just been to a meeting at work and felt “absolutely fine”.
She added: “I had carried a bag of raffle prizes and no sooner had I sat down than my head exploded.
“I have never felt pain like it, it was just unbelievable.”
A friend took her to One Life Hartlepool, where medics suspected she had had a brain aneurysm and she was told to go the town’s hospital.
“I don’t remember much more, they are not sure if I had a seizure or not,” said Julie.
She was then transferred to North Tees for scans before being sent to James Cook, where she spent seven weeks.
Julie, who was discharged from hospital two weeks ago, has been told she is making good progress.
She said: “I’ve been very lucky, I can’t thank the staff at James Cook enough.
“I was critical for a few days.”
Julie, who will be off work for at least three months, added that the stress of Scott going missing has impacted on the whole family, with Scott’s six-year-old daughter Lucie saying: “I’m never going to see my dad again, am I?”
But Julie tells her granddaughter: “You have to remember your dad loves you very much” and Lucie has asked Julie to buy her an angel to watch over her for Christmas.
She admitted the thought of another festive season without her son “does weigh on your mind a bit”.
She said there has been no further leads in the investigation, though the Missing People organisation published another appeal in the Big Issue on November 11, and it also offers over-the-phone counselling.
Julie said as another Christmas approaches, the family have no choice but to pull together, especially for the sake of Lucie, and Scott’s step-son Bradley, eight.
She added that Scott had said a few times that he needed to get away, but she said: “I find it hard to accept he would just walk away, especially from his children.”
Julie said Detective Superintendent Jon Green and his team have organised a meeting with the family next month.
Scott was last seen at 8.20pm on May 11, 2011, in the lay-by opposite the Jet garage on the A181 at Wheatley Hill.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Det Supt Green on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.