There is speculation that Jamie Neale, the British teen who survived for twelve days in the forested Blue Mountains of Australia, wasn’t really lost and may have faked his disappearance. When found on Wednesday, he did not have hypothermia despite the frigid nighttime temperatures.
Neale set off for a hike on July 3 with a very small amount of supplies. When he didn’t return, a massive search effort was launched: 400 people covered about 100 square kilometers of bushland. Neale’s father, Richard Cass, says he expected the worst. He even carved a gravestone for his son. Then, on Wednesday, a pair of hikers stumbled upon the boy. His survival has been widely described as a miracle.
Neale has reportedly sold his story to Australia’s Channel Nine.
If a hoax, his account bears some resemblance to the wild tale of “the real Crocodile Dundee“, Rod Ansell, who in 1977 claimed he was lost in the bushland along the Fitzmaurice River for two months. Fellow bushmen were deeply skeptical of his story, but others – including Paul Hogan – were captivated by it.
To be fair, Neale showed signs of pneumonia in hospital. He has firmly denied staging a hoax, and even retraced his path for the program 60 Minutes. He says he took a wrong turn and became hopelessly lost, so he settled near a waterfall to wait for rescue.