Much Loved Family Man Lost for 5 Days in Australian Wilderness Now Found

By James Burke

A lone hiker lost for five days in the Australian wilderness has been found in good health, much to the relief of his family.

Father of two, Julio Ascui, was located by park rangers in the Grampians National Park in Australia’s south eastern state of Victoria on Wednesday.

He was by a creek when found, said media reports.

Despite his ordeal, the 50-year-old told the ABC, not long after being found, that he was feeling “really well.”

The smiling Ascui said he was thirsty after he came out of the bush near the village of Halls Gap. He had some scratches and grazes on his body.

Asked what had happened, the outdoor lover from Melbourne said: “I just come to [go] trekking and, after, I’m lost for five days.”

“I [was] drinking water from this little river over there, I come every morning to fill up my bottle.”

The rescue of Chilean-born Ascui ends a search effort by the state’s emergency services, friends and family. Mounted police were also brought to help with the search on Wednesday.

The ABC reported that his last contact with his family was via Facebook on Dec. 29.

More than 25 of his family and friends had come to the area from Melbourne to help with the search.

‘Heart of the Family”

His son Joshua Ascui told reporters he thought his father had perished.

“There are no words that can describe how I’m feeling right now,” Joshua said reported The Age. “I thought I knew what happiness was. I didn’t know what happiness was until today. I’m just overwhelmed.”

Joshua described his dad as “the heart of the family.”

“We’ve even got relatives overseas boarding flights as we speak on the way to come and help. Everyone just loves him.”

Joshua said the first thing his father said to him was: “What’s everyone so worried about?”

He said, his father looked like he could go for another five days.

“My dad has a never say quit attitude.”

Saved by Selfies

Parks Victoria’s Dave Handscombe, who spotted Ascui in the rugged landscape, told the ABC that the trekker’s love of taking “selfies from high points” assisted in rangers being able to locate him.

“We got up onto the escarpment, onto a high point to get a better vantage point, and we could see a figure in the distance,” Handscombe said.

“Initially we thought it was one of the other family members … and then he started yelling out to us waving his hands, and we responded and he said his name was Julio and he’d been out there for five days,” he said.

“We thought we’d hit the jackpot, there was lots of emotions at that time because to be honest after five days… you were starting to think the worst.”

Ascui’s family realised he might be in trouble when they stopped receiving his selfie updates. Jessie told the ABC “it’s not normal for him not to tell anyone or (not) post online. He contacts us a lot,” referring to her dad’s social media habits.

Park Rangers were able to use all the selfies that Ascui has posted since the start of his hike to help locate his car, “We matched it exactly,” Mr Chahine told the ABC. Ascui was found less than one kilometer away from his vehicle.


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