15 Dec South Australian man Phu Tran found alive by pastoralist…
South Australian man Phu Tran has been found alive after going missing for almost two weeks in the Northern Territory outback.
Pastoralist Ted Fogarty found Mr Tran, 40, on Tuesday morning and said the missing man had been very lucky to stumble across a water tank on his remote cattle station.
“He was just so lucky he came in here,” Mr Fogarty said.
“He could have gone anywhere [else] and he wouldn’t have got water for 20 kilometres.”
Mr Fogarty said he decided to head out and look for the missing hikers on Tuesday morning, after hearing about the situation last night.
“I thought, just on an off-chance, that they could be here,” he said.
“So I drove up to the yards and went around and I could see his tracks coming into the trough.”
As Mr Fogarty followed the footprints he spotted Mr Tran emerge from one of the large cement pipes that had been left on the ground, which he said Mr Tran had slept in overnight.
Mr Fogarty said Mr Tran had been using the nearby water tank to shelter by during the day.
“I picked him up and asked where he was going, if he wanted to come with me,” he said.
“[I] took him back to the station and gave him a feed, made him a sandwich and he drank two cans of Coke.
“He was pretty happy to be back there I think.”
He said Mr Tran was disoriented when he found him and unable to speak clearly about what had happened or where fellow hiker Claire Hockridge was.
NT Police Superintendent Pauline Vicary said Mr Tran had later been able to speak with them and said he and Ms Hockridge separated at the boundary fence of the cattle station two days earlier, when Mr Tran decided to follow the fence line.
“He’s able to talk and in good spirits,” she said.
“The first thing he did was … [he] went to the tank and got some water.”
Mr Tran and Alice Springs residents Ms Hockridge, 46, and Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, told friends they were going on an afternoon trek on Tuesday, November 19.
The trio was reported missing on November 23 and police began an air search three days later, focused on areas south of Alice Springs near Owen Springs, Stuarts Well and Rainbow Valley.
Ms McBeath-Riley was found by helicopter east of Stuarts Well on Sunday afternoon after a tip-off led police to the group’s car, which had become bogged in the Finke River.
Ms McBeath-Riley said the group stayed by the car for a few days trying to free it, but they moved on after running out of supplies.
She said Mr Tran and Ms Hockridge left the vehicle on November 27, carrying a GPS and a compass, hoping to find help.
The dog travelling with the group, a blue Staffordshire terrier named Raya, also survived and was found with Ms McBeath-Riley.
Superintendent Vicary said the search effort would now be focused on Ms Hockridge’s last-known location when she and Mr Tran separated.
“Today we’ll be focusing on getting the helicopters up again and homing in on that area where she will be,” she said.
“We’re hopeful we will be able to locate her today.”
She said Mr Tran and Ms Hockridge had located water before they arrived at the boundary fence two days ago.
“It appears that along the way they have located water so we’re hopeful that she has got water,” she said.
The NT Health Department said Mr Tran had been driven from the Stuarts Well roadhouse to Alice Springs Hospital.
“We’re all immensely pleased that he’s OK and we’re really hoping that Claire is also OK and that this turns out to be a really positive outcome for everybody,” Superintendent Vicary said.
“If you believe in miracles—I’m saying it’s a miracle anyway.”
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