An Australian teen was found disoriented and covered with leeches and insect bites after spending nine weeks in the Australian Outback in an attempt to run away from home.
Matthew Allen went missing north of Sydney prompting his family to fear the worst, believing he was dead after massive searches turned up nothing. He was last seen by his family on Nov. 27, according to the New South Wales Police Force.
But two months later, Allen, 18, was found by hikers in the bush near Sydney. He only weighed around 85 pounds and was covered in leeches and mosquito bites, while suffering from gangrene, according to The Australian newspaper.
He was located only around 650 feet from homes in the suburb of Westleigh, just under a mile from his family home, but it is unclear if he spent the entire time there or if he moved around.
“It was a 400 meters walk in, in difficult terrain, to reach the patient and he was found sitting near the creek,” paramedic David Zids told the paper. “He had lost a lot of weight. He was fairly weak from malnourishment. He’d only been drinking out of the creek, which runs off an urban area.”
Police said that when he was located, he was airlifted out of the bush via a rescue helicopter. Authorities said they think he was in the bush the entire nine weeks he was missing.
Speaking on Allen’s condition, police inspector Glyn Baker told Sky News, “He was completely exhausted, completely dehydrated, suffered significant weight loss, somewhere up to 50 percent.”
He added, “He was suffering from partial blindness and he had leeches all over him. He was not living under any shelter and was exposed to the full conditions since reported being missing.”
Authorities said that Allen suffers from mental health issues, without elaborating, according to Sky.
The Independent reported that he took no extra clothes along with him nor did he take his cellphone. Baker said that Allen apparently tried to hide from trails in the area, which is popular for hiking.
“Hikers often walk along tracks in the area and we think he might have stayed hidden from them,” Baker said.
Glen Nash, with the Australian School of Mountaineering, told the Australian that, though not easy, it is possible to survive in the bush for nine weeks on only water.
“The common rule of thumb in our industry is you can live for three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in extreme environments, three days without water and, depending on who you talk to, three weeks without food,” said Nash.
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