News

Rugby shorts and urine helped to save British backpacker

English backpacker Sam Woodhead, 18. Photo: Facebook
English backpacker Sam Woodhead, 18. Photo: Facebook

A BRITISH backpacker who survived three days in the Australian Outback drinking contact lens fluid and urine has described how his life was saved by a pair of old rugby shorts.

Sam Woodhead, 18, disappeared from a remote station near Longreach in Queensland last Tuesday after he set out for a walk about 4.30pm.

He was found on Friday afternoon after enduring three days in dense woodland, with little supply of water and temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celcius.

Mr Woodhead has sold his story of the ordeal to the Mail on Sunday with the proceeds going back to the organisations involved in his rescue.

He told the Mail on Sunday how he took off his clothes to make an SOS sign on the ground, however two helicopters which flew overhead on Friday morning failed to see the sign.

About 2.30pm local time another helicopter passed over and appeared to have missed him once again, however it soon turned around and collected an exhausted Woodhead.

"I asked the pilot afterwards and he said, 'the only reason we turned around was because we saw something fly up from the ground'.

It was a pair of my white rugby shorts that I used in the SOS sign," Woodhead told the Mail on Sunday.

"The crew had flown over and hadn't noticed the sign, but they were so low their rotors blew my shorts up into the air and that was what they saw. That was the reason why they turned around."

The crew told him the helicopter had only 15 minutes of fuel remaining.

Woodhead was taken to a hospital in Longreach, suffering from kidney damage and having lost about 12kg.

Doctors told him his hydration levels were so low he would not have survived for more than a few hours, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Woodhead told the paper he hoped to attend Sandhurst next year to become an army officer. He had set out for a walk from the ranch in Vergemont where he had been working, carrying a heavy backpack as training.

However he lost his bearings and could not make his way back to the ranch, although throughout the ordeal he was never more than about 8-9km away.

With only a litre of water, he told the paper how he survived on sachets of contact lens saline solution, and even tried drinking his own urine.

"I tried to drink it and took a glug. It was like the contact lens solution but ten times worse. I had to drink about three of the contact lens sachets afterwards just to get rid of the taste."

Although Woodhead was concerned the salt content in the saline solution could have done more harm than good, he believes drinking the fluid was what kept him alive.

Detective Sergeant Dave Perry told the paper he was astonished Woodhead survived three days with no water.

"He would have been dead by Saturday if we hadn't found him."

- www.nzherald.co.nz

Topics:  backpacker, british, editors picks, outback



Community gathers to celebrate anniversary

Lunch With Friends founders Bill Luvring (left) and Denis Pommer great guests at the 10th anniversary luncheon.

Crowd celebrates Lunch WIth Friends aid program's 10th anniversary

VIDEO: Migaloo excites crowds off the Tweed Coast

Migaloo delighted spectators off the Tweed Coast today.

THE albino humpback loved by whale watchers was off the Tweed today

Coolangatta players struggle with loss

Coolangatta Australian rules footballer Andrew Colbey died after collapsing during a masters game on Sunday.

Coolangatta players ponder their future after teammate's death

Latest deals and offers

Three reasons your mind will be blown this week

Alan Dale and Jacki Weaver in a scene from the TV series Secret City.

THREE shows on Foxtel to make your mind boggle.

Elena wins MasterChef: “I’m ecstatic and eager to celebrate"

MasterChef Australia 2016 winner Elena Duggan, from Noosa.

NOOSA chefs survive marathon grand final dish by Heston Blumenthal.

Shannen Doherty shaves hair during cancer battle

Shannen Doherty has completely shaved off her hair

Brian McFadden makes daughters pay for own Christmas gifts

McFadden makes his daughters pay for half their presents

Lady Gaga is a godmother

Lady Gaga has become a godmother to her friends' daughter

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started