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Missing British teen backpacker found in Australian Outback

British teen backpacker found in Australian Outback after going missing for three days survived on contact lens fluid in 40C heat until aboriginal trackers found his footprint.

The mother of lost British teenager Sam Woodhead today revealed her son survived three days in the Australian Outback by drinking contact lens solution and his own urine.
Speaking from Australia, where she had flown to join the search for her son, Claire Derry said she burst into tears when she received the news mid-flight, ending 'the worst three days of my life'.

‘We understand he had no water for three days so he survived on his own urine and contact lens solution,’ she said in an interview shortly after arriving in Brisbane.

'Sam is fearless and wants to go into the Marines or the Army and it was because he was training to be ready for his interview with them that he was trying to keep fit all the time,’ she told ITV this afternoon.

'He’s watched programmes and videos on the Marines and that’s why he would have known a lot about survival and why we were fairly hopeful but we got less hopeful as time went on.'
Aboriginal trackers were brought in for the search which involved some 200 volunteers and rescue workers. The trackers found the imprint of his running shoe before a helicopter crew saw him at 5am yesterday almost 13 miles from the ranch.
According to his mother, Sam is unable to eat, but managed a smile when he was found by a rescue team which included his cousin Rob.

'I gather he did say to my nephew “I expect I ruined my sister’s 21st birthday”, which was yesterday’
Ms Derry, who was met in Brisbane by Sam's old nanny Katrina, is flying out to Longreach Hospital to reunite with her son.
'To be honest I was beginning to fear the worst. It’s been the worst three days of my life by a long way since 5.30am Tuesday morning when two policeman knocked on my front door and told me that my son was missing.'

She says she believes that Sam will want to continue his travels which was set to include a trip to Thailand and trekking in the Himalayas but said 'I don’t know if the rest of the family will be able to stand that.

'No doubt it’s what Sam will want to carry on doing but it might write the rest of us off.'

It marks the end of an incredible story of survival for backpacker Sam, who disappeared from a cattle station in the Australian state of Queensland on Tuesday.

He became lost and disorientated after going for a jog. He drank his small bottle of water within the first hour of his run.

He then endured crippling heat of around 39C for the next three days. At night he simply curled up on the ground before resuming his efforts to find his way home.

‘He’s moving – he’s alive,’ the crew reported back to their command centre. A Queensland police spokesman said Sam was taken to the 135,000 acre Upshot Station cattle ranch where he had been staying.

He was then transferred to a hospital 80 miles away in Longreach where he is expected to remain for at least 24 hours. He was said to be sunburnt but otherwise in reasonable shape after being rehydrated.

Alex Dorr, a pilot with the North Queensland Rescue Helicopter, described the area Sam became lost in as ‘harsh and unforgiving’. He added: ‘Not that long ago we had a guy who was missing for a much shorter time and he passed away.’
His father Peter and sister Rebecca told ITV's Daybreak about the family's 'nightmare' ordeal waiting for news about the lost teen.

Rebecca said the former Brighton College student was on his way to hospital by helicopter with injuries no worse than ‘minor sunstroke, dehydration and chapped lips’.
Asked about being reunited with Sam, she joked 'God, I'm going to give a bloody good whack, I tell you. There's a queue - trust me!'

Mr Woodhead was visibly emotional as he described the ordeal the family had been through waiting for the news that he was safe.

'The word 'nightmare' these days is much misused,’ he said. ‘This has been a true nightmare.’
He went on to thank all the people who helped find Samuel - who numbered up to 200.

After hearing the news, Mr Woodhead's sister Emma Lupton told BBC Radio Five Live today: 'We're just so relieved that he is safe. I just want to give him a hug.'

'It has just been the worst few days really and we've just had to stay positive and keep positive thoughts in our heads.'
Upon hearing the news, Rebecca posted on Facebook today, saying: 'We have been told that they have found sam!! We have no information on his condition or where he was found yet, so keep your fingers crossed.'

Local authorities launched a search for Mr Woodhead, reportedly from Richmond Upon Thames, in Surrey, amid fears he may have become lost in the hot, isolated region.
Rescuers searched for him by land and air. His mother is understood to have urged police to widen their search as her son, an experienced long-distance runner, could have travelled some way from his base.

Temperatures have been around 37C (98.6 Fahrenheit) in the area this week.

Alex Dorr, a pilot with the North Queensland Rescue Helicopter, told ITV’s Daybreak he had gone down to the area where Samuel disappeared, searching in the dark with night-vision cameras in a bid to find him quickly.

He described the area as ‘harsh and unforgiving’, adding: ‘Not that long ago we had a guy who was missing for a much shorter time and he passed away from dehydration.’

Helicopters and scores of local people in four wheel drive vehicles had been scouring the area around the cattle station where Mr Woodhead had been staying for the previous 10 days as part of his ‘outback experience' during his gap year.
As temperatures soared towards 40C, with the search entering its third day, police said they held grave fears for Mr Woodhead's safety.

People who spend more than a couple of days in the harsh outback without water tend to collapse from dehydration.
A middle-aged Swiss couple who were lost in Western Australia last month managed to survive three days in the desert because they had access to river water.

A man on a quad bike who went missing earlier this week in Western Australia was found in a dehydrated state after two days.

Daily Mail . By Leon Watson
16 February 2013

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