BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 29 November, 2002, 13:31 GMT
Backpacker's 'smart' trek to safety
Louise Saunders
Louise Saunders said she survived on chewing gum
A Worcestershire teenager who was lost on an Australian mountain for more than three days escaped her ordeal by following a creek.

Louise Saunders turned up safe and well on Friday after finding her own way out of the dense rainforest which covers Mount Tyson in Queensland.

The 19-year-old from Kidderminster had been missing since Tuesday morning when she set out alone to climb the peak which overlooks the town of Tully.

Police, who said Miss Saunders was wrong to climb the peak alone, have described her trek to safety as "almost impossible" but say she was "very smart" in planning her escape.


Being as lost as she was it would have been almost impossible to escape

Sergeant Kim McCoomb
Speaking at a news conference in Australia, Miss Saunders said she had eaten a banana during the first hour of her walk, but for the rest of the time, survived on sugar-free chewing gum.

"It was an experience and an adventure but I would never want to go through it again," she said.

"I'm always going to thank chewing gum for my survival."

Click here to see map

Aboriginal trackers, emergency crews and helicopters with heat-seeking equipment took part in a large-scale search, scouring the dense areas of tropical forest.

Liz Saunders
Liz Saunders believed her daughter would be found
Miss Saunders said she could hear the rescue helicopter but the crew could not see her through the thick bushland.

She sat for a day at the top of a waterfall hoping the helicopters would see her, but finally set off along the creek.

She said: "I thought if I don't get out today I never will."

She eventually emerged from the forest at a municipal rubbish dump from where locals contacted the rescuers.

'Very horrible'

Sergeant Kim McCoomb of Queensland Police said: "We're amazed at her tenacity and very thrilled she's safe and well.

"Being as lost as she was it would have been almost impossible to escape.

"She was very smart at finding that creek and following it downstream.

"The terrain is very inhospitable. It's a very horrible place to be, especially spending three nights up there."

But the police also said her decision to tackle the mountain alone was "foolish".

Back in England, the Saunders family celebrated the good news.

Louise's mother, Liz Saunders, said: "It's been the worst time of my life.

"I knew they would find her safe and well.

"We've spoken to her. She's got sore feet and scratches. She didn't know what all the fuss was about, but she's fine."

Love message

Miss Saunders' boyfriend Steven Wong was among 70 people who spent the day searching near the town of Tully.

They had found her name written on a tree in the rainforest, near to where she was last seen.

The message, in red felt pen, read "Louise S loves Steven W for eva", illustrated with a heart.

As well as the note, Miss Saunders, a trainee beauty therapist, also managed to telephone friend Jo Woodward to say she was lost on the 660m summit.

Her mobile phone cut out as she was speaking.

The pair had gone to Australia in June as part of their gap year before college.

Click here to return

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Phil Mercer
"Louise Saunders stumbled out of her nightmare with barely a scratch"
Louise Saunders
"I thought, if I don't get out today, then I'll never get out"

Click here to go to BBC Hereford and Worcester
See also:

29 Nov 02 | England
29 Nov 02 | England
29 Nov 02 | England
29 Nov 02 | England
27 Nov 02 | England
27 Nov 02 | England
03 Oct 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes