Mystery of man's walk on wild side

ONE OF the most bizarre disappearances in the Australian outback ended yesterday when Robert Bogucki, an American adventurer, was found after wandering for 28 days in the desert of the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Dehydrated, starving and with one-third of his body weight lost, Mr Bogucki, 33, was lifted out of the Great Sandy Desert by a helicopter team after he had been reduced to scratching for water around billabongs and surviving on plants and tea made from eucalyptus leaves.

The 33-year-old fireman from Alaska had been given up for dead by Australian police, Aboriginal trackers and a search team from the US who had flown in with three bloodhounds and retrievers.

"I felt really alone, not desperate but just without hope at some point," an exhausted Mr Bogucki said from his hospital bed in Broome, on the north- west Australian coast, where he was flown for treatment. The month-long search for Mr Bogucki in the outback has captivated Australians, and his discovery was hailed as one of the remarkable feats of survival.

But questions were being asked, especially by Western Australian police who believed at one point that Mr Bogucki was deliberately evading searchers to test his survival skills. And there were also suggestions his adventure could be linked to a publishing deal in America.

Police want to know why the American walked alone into one of the world's most inhospitable regions, whose remote rocky ranges, red earth and searing temperatures have claimed many lives. Superintendent Steve Roast, of Broome police, said: "We have to face facts. Mr Bogucki went out there alone. It was an extremely irresponsible thing for him to do."

Mr Bogucki had apparently set out to walk 250 miles across the Great Sandy Desert, where few humans venture, to Fitzroy Crossing, a town on the main highway through the Kimberley region. He said yesterday: "I wanted to spend a while on my own with nobody else around, to make peace with God."

He was last seen a month ago. On 26 July his bicycle and backpack were found at the Sandfire Roadhouse between the Indian Ocean and the desert on the highway 150 miles south of Broome. Police with Aboriginal trackers mounted a land and air search, but called it off after a fortnight. Mr Bogucki's parents in America hired a team called the 1st Special Response Group - eight men and women and three dogs - to fly to Australia and resume the search. The team was led by Garrison St Clair, known as "Gunslinger".

Their arrival on the scene caused tension with the local police, who feared the overseas searchers, too, could disappear in the unfamiliar terrain. Car hire companies in Broome, whose four-wheel-drive vehicles had been damaged in the earlier search, declined to do business with the Americans. A Broome hotel company finally rented them its four-wheel- drive tourist coach.

Helped eventually by police, the Americans set up a base camp near the Edgar Ranges, a series of deep desert gorges south-east of Broome along Mr Bogucki's probable path.

After three days their search proved fruitless and they were about to pull out last weekend. Then a media helicopter alerted them to a pile of human belongings in a blue tarpaulin and abandoned in the spinifex grass near the ranges.

They were Mr Bogucki's empty plastic water bottle, sunscreen, tent, boxer shorts, a T-shirt, a Bible and a notebook containing rambling written thoughts. "They're the thoughts of a bloke obviously in isolation," said Senior Constable Lindsay Grateorex, of Broome police. "It goes all over the place."

The fresh discovery convinced searchers Mr Bogucki was alive, but seriously needing help. Yesterday morning a helicopter chartered by Channel Nine, a commercial television network, was the first to spot him staggering through the gorges. "Gunslinger" St Clair said: "I think he wanted to be found. He said he thought he was in trouble several days ago, so he lightened his load."

Mr Bogucki said he survived by eating wildflowers and fruit. His cadaverous appearance suggested the claim might not be far-fetched. Asked if he had found what he was searching for, he replied: "Before I started out I really didn't know what I was looking for.

"It's still going through my mind the things I've seen and experienced. I feel satisfied that I stretched that edge, whatever it was that sent me out there in the first place. The only feeling I have right now is a feeling of confidence that God will take care of you."

Broome police are unlikely to appreciate such New Age reflections. They say Mr Bogucki did everything tourists are warned not to do when venturing into the outback: Tell people where you are going, carry enough water for your entire journey and stay near marked roads, especially if you become lost.

Last night the police had turned to another search, for a boat, lost off Broome's coast.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn