A missing British pensioner was rescued after spending three days lost in a Thai jungle.
Leonard Barry Weller (CORRECT), 72, rode a motorcycle to visit friends but became lost in the dense woodland in Khon Kaen province, northeastern Thailand, on Wednesday September 1.
He climbed a tree to try and view a route to safety but was battered by a monsoon rain storm and forced to bed down for the night in the jungle – home to deadly snakes and bears.
Incredibly, the hungry pensioner went for three days without food and survived by using a piece of grass as a straw to drink rain water from puddles – clenching his thirst as temperatures outside soared to 35C.
Worried wife Tawee Leonard, 49, called police after not hearing from her husband, originally from Hastings, East Sussex, and a search party was sent out on Thursday and Friday.
A local hunter and forage finally found Leonard on Friday afternoon. He was seen emerging from the jungle unshaven and covered in cuts on his legs. His shirt was open and he had lost his shoes.
Leonard, who broke down in tears as he hugged his emotional wife, said: ‘I’m wonderfully happy, I’ve never been so happy in my life. My feet are sore, otherwise I’m, happy. I’m hot but fine. I just admire the work that these people are doing, it makes me cry. They’re doing a good job.’
Leonard, who has lived in Thailand for around 15 years, said he parked his motorcycle to walk up a hill but then forgot the direction back ‘so just kept on moving forward’.
He added: ‘It was getting dark so I made a leaf bed to sleep on, and when I was thirsty I drank rainwater from rock crevices. I just like to thank everybody for helping.’
The retired British ex-pat said he rode through an unfamiliar route and was not able to find his way home. He was unable to find any local villagers to ask for help.
When locals found Leonard, he was lying on the ground on a leaf bed with no shoes on. They called police and the rescue team climbed uphill and brought him down safely.
Leonard’s Thai wife Tawee said: ‘My husband and I have been living together for three years. He likes to travel alone to different places but he always comes home at the end of the day.
‘The day he went missing, my husband said that he was taking the motorcycle with him to see the beautiful scenery of the sugarcane fields and paddy fields. I became worried when my husband was not home at midnight so I asked for help from the police station.’
Leonard was taken to hospital for a check-up but was otherwise unharmed.
There are many types of wild animals in Thailand’s jungles, including tigers, leopards, bears and elephants, but rescuers said that particular forest was not considered dangerous.