An Australian teen missing for since November was found in a bush covered in leeches, emaciated and partially blind after surviving in a bush for nine weeks.
The teen, 18-year-old Matthew Allen, was last seen leaving his home near Sydney on Nov. 27.
He was found covered in leeches and insect bites by hikers Saturday in Westleigh, and law enforcement officials said the teen was in poor physical condition.
“He was in such a poor state,” Det. Acting Inspector Glyn Baker of The Hills Local Area Command told the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘‘He was completely exhausted, completely dehydrated, suffered significant weight loss, somewhere up to 50 percent. He was suffering from partial blindness and he had leeches all over him.’’
Allen, an accounting student, is believed to also be suffering from gangrene. None of his injuries are life threatening, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
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Allen survived in bushland for nine weeks after disappearing from his Sydney area home. There were fears that Allen was dead, since he left his cell phone and clothing with him when he went missing, the paper reported.
When the hikers found the teen covered in leeches, Allen was lying down and disoriented, Baker told the Morning Herald.
Hikers are known to traverse the area of bushland where Allen was hiding out for nine weeks, and authorities believe the teen made a concerted effort to hide from anyone who might find him.
‘‘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,’’ Baker said. ‘‘I think he is in such a state that he couldn’t actually get up and move. He’s not that far from home at Westleigh, but there’s no indication at all that food was being pilfered from the house. He was not living under any shelter and was exposed to the full conditions since reported being missing.’’
The news of Allen being found came as a relief to the teen’s family, ABC News in Australia reported.
"His family are ecstatic that he's alive and that he's well," Baker told the news station. "He's been reunited with them and they've been Hornsby Hospital to see him."
Allen was taken to Hornsby via rescue helicopter because he was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.
Finding the missing teen also came as a surprise to local law enforcement.
"I was amazed and very happy that everything turned out the way that it happened. I couldn't believe it," Det. Senior Constable Ben Wrigley of the Hornsby police station told 9News.
Once Allen regains his strength, detectives are expected to talk to the teen about his ordeal. Authorities believe “there is more to his story,” ABC News reported.