Questions Raised Over 'Miracle' Escape From Australian Bush
sremmah3 | July 16, 2009 at 02:43 amby
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The searcher, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Auspacific Media Group, "he looked remarkably well for a man who was in the bush that long" and asked "I wonder if there is more to this story."
Further questions were raised by experienced Blue Mountains guide and bush survival expert Kahan Norton of "Survive the Blue Mountains", a Blue Mountains bush survival organisation, who has also queried the veracity of the survival claim.
"I've watched the news footage and he looked remarkably well to have been lost 12 days," he said.
"Considering the food he was said to have been eating he looked too good," he added.
The lack of body wastage is an issue that has been raised by many guides and experienced local people who witnessed Mr Neale emerge unassisted from a police vehicle at the Blue Mountain hospital.
Mr Neale was found after a 12-day search when he wandered into a bushwalkers camp in the area, who were able to notify police. Police notified Neale's father Richard Cass who was about to catch a flight home from Sydney Airport after he had arrived during the previous week to join the search for his son.
Mr Cass told media outside Katoomba hospital later in the day where Neale remains under medical supervision that his son was able to survive on a diet of seeds and a form of lettuce. Mr Cass claimed his son, despite being an experienced bushwalker, had no means to light a fire and was unable to contact police as he had left his mobile phone in Katoomba.
However as the story made international headlines, rescue authorities and Mr Cass were forced to fend off allegations in some quarters that the survival story was a hoax intended to raise money.
Blue Mountains Police Commander, Superintendent Tony McWhirter, the man marked as a hero by Mr Cass for refusing to give up on the search told The Australian today that he had no doubts over the authenticity of the rescue.
"It's an incredible story and that's always harder to digest than those that things turn out poorly," Supt McWhirter said. "There's nothing at this stage to say what he has said is not right, nothing at all."
However the superintendent confirmed that Mr Neale, who is expected to receive up to $1 million for exclusive rights to the story, would be interviewed by police once released from hospital.
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