Thursday, August 21, 2008
Jungle tourist critical: father
(PICTURE: Hayden Adcock ... close to death when found.)
THE father of the Australian tourist who was lost in the jungle for 11 days in flood-ravaged Laos has no idea how his son survived.
"It's a good question," Stan Adcock said. "He was in pouring rain and he was covered in scratches and bruises and goodness knows what. His stomach was empty, the doctor said, so he hadn't been eating and he was pretty close to death when they found him.
"He was conscious but away with the fairies. He wasn't able to make a great deal of sense."
Mr Adcock, who lost his other son in a motor accident at age 16, is unable to find out much more because his son is still in intensive care in Bangkok General Hospital after being found on August 10.
Hayden Adcock, 40, set off for a short walk to the Tad Namsanam waterfall in the province of Khammouane on July 31.
"He's a bushwalker, he just loves that type of thing," Mr Adcock said.
"He just went out for a two-hour walk to a waterfall in the jungle and there was a second waterfall and he decided to go to that as well.
"Then the downpour of rain just washed away all the walk tracks so he became hopelessly lost.
"When he didn't return to his lodgings they went searching for him, a ground search, but that was at the wrong waterfall."
The Australian ambassador to Laos, Michele Forster, said the embassy was not told of Mr Adcock's disappearance until August 8 and sent two officials to the area. "At the time, it was raining in the village, quite cold and the conditions were very difficult," Dr Forster said. "The village community and local government had done a lot to try to find him but they had been unable to locate him."
After two days, the embassy and the Red Cross organised a helicopter search.
Mr Adcock was found at the other waterfall but the helicopter was unable to land.
It took villagers almost four hours to carry him out on a stretcher, cutting through the thick jungle.
Mr Adcock, who has worked around Australia and the world, had taken 12 months off from his job with the Tax Office to teach English in Vietnam before heading to Laos.
His father has managed to speak to him once since his rescue. "He just said it took them three hours to get where he was and that's all they'd allow him to say," he said.
Doctors took Mr Adcock off a ventilator yesterday.
"He's in critical condition but there has been slight improvement," his father said.
"Now and again he has to have a special operation. Yesterday he had an operation for bleeding in the stomach."
Dr Forster said the embassy planned to support a small tourist office with guides to lead treks to the waterfall and the surrounding jungle.
"We will be looking at different ways to support the community," Dr Forster said. "We feel deep gratitude to the local villagers and authorities that assisted us."