An Australian teenager has been found alive after he spent five nights in a rainforest with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few sweets bought from a gas station.
The Cairns Post reported that the teenager left the hospital on May 28, with the only footage of him recorded from the Wonga Beach service station, where Cortez is thought to have bought a pack of lollies while on his way to the rainforest.
His sister, Angelique Carter, 26, told the outlet that witnesses informed her that they had seen the teenager hitchhiking towards the Daintree Rainforest, which was consistent with information the police had been given.
On Wednesday afternoon, five nights and six days since the teenager was last seen, Carter, alongside officers from the Mossman and Port Douglas police, found Cortez “malnourished” and “disoriented” at the remote Cape Kimberley beach, located in the Daintree Rainforest.
The family believe that Cortez survived on only the “few candies” he purchased on Friday, with Carter telling the Post: “We don’t know how he has survived, it’s been a very scary experience for him.
“He had cuts all over him and he just looked terrible, alone and frightened. We don’t think he’s eaten much for five days but we are just so thankful he’s alive.”
Carter and her brother, Raphael, had searched for the teenager during the days that he was missing, following “breadcrumb leads” they received from the small number of witnesses who saw him on Friday.
“We just kept following the breadcrumb leads and we just didn’t stop, and neither did the police,” Carter said. “We knew he had gone across on the ferry but he didn’t have anything on him, no phone or camping gear, so we were very worried. He’s just been in the bush with nothing.”
After the teenager was located at the Cape Kimberley beach on Wednesday, he was taken to Cairns Hospital, also located in Queensland, where he is still under observation, according to the Post.
Carter said that she is thankful for the work the police and the wider community undertook to find her brother, saying: “The police and everyone have just been remarkable.”
Daintree Rainforest, which is a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland Rainforest, spans around 460 miles and includes sandy beaches and reefs alongside Daintree National Park.
Newsweek has contacted the authorities in Queensland for comment.