'Back from dead' Briton's dad quashes hoax claims

A British teenager rescued after 12 nights in Australia's rugged bushland was recovering in hospital Thursday as his father and officials dismissed suggestions his miraculous survival was a hoax.

Doctors said Jamie Neale, 19, was responding well to treatment for dehydration and exhaustion after his ordeal in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

Neale, who ate seeds and weeds to survive, had scratches to his face and upper body but no hypothermia despite enduring freezing overnight temperatures with only his lightweight jacket for warmth.

"I am very grateful to everybody for their help and support," the teenager said in a brief statement.

Doctor Raul Amor said Neale was sleeping well and "eating anything the hospital can offer." He did not answer questions about whether the boy's condition seemed too good to be true.

"I can't say much about what he's been doing and what precautions he was taking," Amor told reporters.

"He's doing quite well. He doesn't have a temperature. All the tests are looking quite well," he added.

The poorly equipped Neale set off for a lone hike on July 3 before becoming hopelessly lost in the mountainous and densely wooded area. He was discovered by chance by two hikers early on Wednesday.

Neale's father, Richard Cass, said his son was upset that people had questioned his account after a series of web postings cast doubt on the story.

"He's aware that people are disbelieving," Cass told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. "I know my boy. I know he's been out there for that period of time.

"He's been through a God-awful experience, and for him to then not be believed, that will obviously be quite psychologically damaging."

Blue Mountains police commander Tony McWhirter said Neale had gone from "relief to incrimination" but added that he had no trouble believing the extraordinary survival tale.

"Now he's just in awe of the fact that he's eating, he's been in bed and he's alive and well," McWhirter said.

"It's much easier to believe the fact that somebody passed away or perished ... That's expected. The incredible is harder to believe."

"There is nothing in any of these things that have been reported to us so far that suggests it is anything but credible," he added.

McWhirter said police would interview Neale to confirm his story after his expected discharge from hospital on Friday.

Cass said his son, who looked bewildered after his rescue and was described as tearful by his mother, remained in a state of shock.

"At the end of the day, my question is, what price a life?" the police chief said.

A South Korean woman struggles with her umbrella in Seoul. AFP/Jung Yeon-Je



July 18, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Neale's story reminds me of "Into the Wild" (which took place in Alaska) with main difference being that Neale actually made it out alive