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Missing Australian Teenager Found Alive After Nine Weeks In Bushland

Michelle Toh |
January 28, 2013 | 6:29 p.m. PST

Assistant News Editor

The 18-year-old survivor was found lying in a bush, covered in leeches and emaciated. (Kaptain Kobold, Creative Commons)
The 18-year-old survivor was found lying in a bush, covered in leeches and emaciated. (Kaptain Kobold, Creative Commons)
After going missing for more than two months, Sydney native Matthew Allen was found in dense bushland in Westleigh, not far from his home. He was discovered by hikers on Saturday afternoon, who reported a "disorientated man" to authorities.

Allen was found lying in a bush, covered in leeches and mosquito bites, partially blind and emaciated. His legs and feet were believed to be inflicted with gangrene.

''He was in such a poor state,'' Detective Acting Inspector Glyn Baker told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He was completely exhausted, completely dehydrated, suffered significant weight loss, somewhere up to 50%. He was suffering from partial blindness and he had leeches all over him.''

Before going missing, Allen was last seen during a heat wave in Sydney that saw unprecedented temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). When the 18-year-old went missing on Nov. 27, police “feared the worst,” as Allen has been reported to suffer from an undisclosed medical condition and did not take his mobile phone or any extra clothing with him. His bank accounts were also said to have remained untouched during the nine-week period. A public appeal was launched to find him, with the initial belief that he may have been in the Castle Hill Area, where Allen studied accounting at The Hills College.

According to CNN, Allen told officials that he survived by drinking water from a nearly dried out creek bed. However, it is believed that there is more to the story - the young man was discovered on a trail popular with local hikers, and he was only 1 to 2 miles away from home. 

"If the first time that he is seen is at 2 p.m. on Saturday obviously he must have kept out of the way of people,’’ Inspector Baker said. ‘I think he is in such a state that he couldn’t actually get up and move.”

The police added how lucky Allen was to be alive. "Anyone who is missing for that length of time in those kind of conditions - you wouldn’t expect to see them again," Detective Senior Constable Ben Wrigley from Hornsby Local Area Command told the Australian Associated Press on Monday.

Allen, who was airlifted to Hornsby hospital, has since been reunited with his family. Police have stated that they will be speaking to him after giving him time to recover, 

Reach Assistant News Editor Michelle Toh here.



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