Backpacker stays in hospital

A "back from the dead" backpacker who was lost in the Australian bush for 12 days could be discharged from hospital tomorrow.

Jamie Neale, 19, from north London was found alive but dehydrated by sightseers in the Blue Mountains national park, west of Sydney, yesterday morning.

He was taken to Katoomba's Blue Mountains Hospital to be treated for dehydration and exposure.

A hospital spokeswoman said today: "He may be released tomorrow. We're taking it one day at a time. We're waiting on test results.

"He is stable and resting comfortably and has eaten well."

She said Mr Neale's father, Richard Cass, had been staying with him.

Kevin Hedge, Director Clinical Operations-Western Cluster, Sydney West Area Health Service spokesman said he would remain in hospital for another night for observation and further investigations.

"Both Mr Neale and his father slept well on their first night there," he added.

Mr Neale said: "I am very grateful to everybody for their help and support."

Mr Cass, who flew to Australia a week ago to join the search, said he had given up hope.

He was waiting at the airport to fly home yesterday morning when he received a text message from police saying there was good news.

"The words 'good news' told me everything. That was when I knew he was safe," he said.

Mr Cass told reporters he had been so sure he would never see his son alive again that he had even said goodbye by burying a red rose and lighting a candle at the national park where he also scratched his son's name and date of birth into the ground.

"He's come back from the dead," he said. "I'm just so pleased to see him. It's fantastic."

Mr Neale left the UK for Australia on June 20 for his first big trip which was due to include Laos, Vietnam and Nepal.

He arrived in Australia on June 22 and checked into the Katoomba youth hostel, in New South Wales, on July 2.

He left the hostel for a walk in the Blue Mountains at 9.40am on July 3 and was seen about noon on top of the Ruined Castle, a rock formation in the Jamison Valley. He told other sightseers that he intended to walk east towards Mount Solitary.

The alarm was raised when he failed to arrive for a pre-paid tour of the Jenolan Caves the following day and police found his mobile phone and identification in his hostel room.

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