• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
'Dead' Spanish doctor found alive in tent in Italian forest after 19 years
The Spaniard, declared legally dead in 2010, has been found living as a hermit in a forest in Tuscany. Photo: Patrice Wangern /Flickr

'Dead' Spanish doctor found alive in tent in Italian forest after 19 years

The Local · 9 Nov 2015, 12:19

Published: 09 Nov 2015 12:19 GMT+01:00

Carlos Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar, now 47, disappeared from his home in Seville province in 1996 during a bout of severe depression.

After nothing was seen or heard of the man originally from Bilbao for 14 years he was legally declared dead by the Spanish authorities.

But two weeks ago a man claiming to be Carlos was found by two mushroom pickers, who stumbled across his camp in on a thickly wooded hillside outside Scalino, a town in Tuscany.

The two foragers had been eager to find some mushrooms in the woods after a weekend of heavy rainfall, but after having no luck, the pair decided to venture off the footpath to try and turn their fortunes around.

But instead of finding mushrooms, they found a trail of plastic bottles and dirty plastic water canisters which they followed until they stumbled across the camp of the man, who reportedly had "a dirty face and large beard".

Terrified, the two men ran back towards the footpath but returned a few hours later with the head forest ranger. After reaching the camp, the man came out to greet them.

“I'm Spanish, my name is Carlos and I've been living here since 1997,” he said. “I don't want to live among people: now that you have found me I need to get out of here.”

But before Carlos packed up his camp the group asked him to prove his story, at which the hermit pulled out a battered, faded and long-expired passport bearing the name Carlos Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar. Before leaving, the group managed to snap a photo of his passport with their smartphones.

Using the photos the foragers were able to notify the authorities about the man's presence in the woods as well as the missing persons' association, Penelope, in Italy and its counterpart, S.O.S Desaparecidos, in Spain.

The authorities quickly tracked down his family, who arrived in Italy on Friday.

“That's him – that's our Carlos,” sobbed his parents when they saw the photo of his passport. “He is alive and that is the most important thing,” they told journalists from Corriere Della Sera.

On Saturday morning his parents joined a search party that went into the forest where the mushroom pickers had found Salazar, but he had done as promised and moved his camp.

Story continues below…

“There was no sign of him,” said the disappointed mayor of Scarlino, Marcello Stella. “Who knows if we will find him again.”

But his parents were resolute and vowed to continue searching the forest until they could find their son, who they had believed dead for so long.

“We respect his will and his freedom but we're not leaving until we have held him in our arms again – even if it is just for one last time," his mother Amelia said.

It is not known how he managed to survive in the wood for so long – some theories suggest he found a way to cultivate food, while others suggest he has survived thanks to midnight raids on dustbins at the edge of nearby towns such as Scarlino. 

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Today's headlines
Smoking near kids is 'form of abuse': Spanish experts
Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP.

A group of Spanish medical experts warns that given the serious health effects, lighting up around a child could be considered abuse.

Man jailed for driving car with bomb into political party HQ
Police blocked off the streets in 2014 after the man drove his car with an explosive device into the office of the Popular Party. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP.

An unemployed man who drove a car loaded with a home-made bomb into the Madrid headquarters of Spain's ruling Popular Party was sentenced to five years in jail.

Confused Spaniard causes evacuation of Cologne airport
Cologne Bonn airport was put on lockdown after the Spaniard skipped security. Photo: Patrik Stollarz/AFP

This might be the last time he decides to skip security...

Isis storm Real Madrid fan club in Iraq, shooting 12 dead
Real Madrid players. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

Spanish football authorities have condemned the attack on a Real Madrid supporters club, which left 12 fans dead during Saturday night's Champions League final.

How a quiet Barcelona block became a hotbed of protests
Police stand off against protesters in Barcelona. Photo: Conor DeVries.

Journalist and local resident Conor DeVries gives a first-hand account of the riots that have shaken one Barcelona neighbourhood.

Gallery
Ten amazing reasons to visit Spain's Canary Islands
Incredible scenery on the Canary Island of La Gomera. Photo: Till Krech/Flickr

To celebrate Canary Island Day, The Local takes a look at some of the best reasons to visit Spain's most exciting islands.

Four-day metro strike brings travel chaos to Barcelona
File photo of Barcelona Metro. Photo: AFP

Metro workers are striking from Monday until Thursday.

Gibraltar leader fears Spain sovereignty push over Brexit
Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Spain may try to force the issue of joint sovereignty with Britain over Gibraltar in the event of a Brexit, the territory's chief minister said in an interview aired on Saturday.

What's on in Spain: June 2016
The Battle of Wine festival. Photo: AFP

Spaniards celebrate the arrival of summer with a month of festivals, concerts, and fairs.

Real Madrid come home to ecstatic crowds in capital
"How can I not love you!," shouted the ecstatic crowd at the Plaza de Cibeles. Photo: AFP

Thousands of Real Madrid fans chanted and waved supporter scarves under a rain of confetti on Sunday in the Spanish capital as the team returned home after an historic 11th European Cup win.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
Stunning cave paintings found 300 metres below Spain
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Five good reasons why Extremadura should be on your bucket list
Lifestyle
Top Ten: Barcelona's coolest rooftop bars
National
Plane forced to dodge THREE drones to land in Bilbao
National
Spain launches campaign to stop English 'invasion'
Culture
Ten unique Basque words you need to learn right now
National
'It’s time to dig up Franco' say victims of Spain's dictatorship
Lifestyle
'Severe jellyfish stings' end Brit's Spanish swim feat
Sport
5 reasons why Spanish clubs dominate European football
International
Tesco to bring British tea and biscuits to Spanish stores
Culture
Bucket list: 16 brilliant things to do once in your life in Spain
National
Spain's Civil War victims to be exhumed from Franco's tomb
National
Two mums face jail for leaving kids in car to go out drinking
Education
Students at Spanish college forced to take exorcism class
National
Ten superb reasons why you need to visit San Sebastián
Society
Abused wife saved by hiding SOS note in son's homework
National
Look up! Rare meteor shower set to dazzle skies over Spain
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
Travel
Ibiza bans drinking in street… and that includes water
National
Expats didn't 'abandon' UK so ALL Brits should get EU vote
Features
What's on in Spain: May 2016
Travel
Discover Spain's breathtaking national parks
3,145
jobs available