• 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
Pamplona fights fiesta urine with walls that 'pee back'
Men queue up for a portable urinal. But not all bother to wait in line. Photo: Fiona Govan

It's 'pee-back' time in Pamplona as authorities get tough over public urination.

Brexit
Spanish PM opposes EU talks with Scotland after Brexit
Sturgeon met Junker in Brussels on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Mariano Rajoy said that Madrid would oppose Scotland having any role in talks between Britain and the European Union after the Brexit vote.

Brexit
Gibraltar 'in talks' with Scotland to remain in the EU
Gibraltar remains defiant in face of Spanish claims. Photo: AFP

Could Gibraltar team up with Scotland to remain in the EU after Brexit?

Catalonia ex-president faces trial over illegal 'referendum'
Artur Mas faces trial for his role in symbolic plebiscite. Photo: AFP

Artur Mas and two other officials are accused of overstepping authority by staging a mock independence referendum in November 2014 in defiance of a ban from Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Woman fined after 'stealing' her own dog from kennels
Photo: Patrick Theiner/Flickr

The woman in Mallorca took her dog without filling out the necessary paperwork.

Barcelona ups fine for illegal home-rentals to €600,000
Companies like Airbnb will now face fines of up to €600,000 for illegal lodgings. Photo: AFP

Barcelona has imposed a 20-fold hike in the maximum fine that can be given to home rental sites like Airbnb if they promote illegal accommodation.

Spain's animal rights party wins record votes in election
Pacma members protesting against bullfighting. Photo: AFP

An animal rights party in Spain won a record number of votes in weekend elections in a country where opposition to bullfighting is more and more vocal.

The ultimate guide to Madrid Gay Pride 2016
Photo: Missiz Me/Flickr.

From a two million-strong parade to fiestas across the city, the Madrid Gay Pride Festival 2016 promises to be one of the best yet. The Local takes a look at the highlights.

The bright side of Brexit: The 'good news' for Brits in Spain
Could Brexit be a reason to celebrate in Spain? Photo: AFP

Well the UK voted to Leave the EU, the pound is tumbling, and stock markets have been in turmoil, but it's not all bad news for Brits living and working in Spain... right?

Spanish arrest Russian mafia in money laundering probe
Photo: Civil Guard / Interior Ministry

The massive bust saw eight people arrested amd 191 properties across Spain seized.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
PP win most seats and PSOE cling on to second place
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
International
Brexit limbo: What happens next for expat Brits in Spain?
Politics
Spanish elections: What are the possible outcomes?
International
Worried after Brexit? Here’s how to become Spanish
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
International
Brit expats in Spain stunned and fearful after Brexit win
Travel
The intern's guide to surviving a summer in Spain
National
The weird and wonderful ways Spain celebrates midsummer
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
International
Spain REALLY wants Britain to stay in EU and here's why
National
Don't jump! Officials in Spain warn against 'balconing' craze
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Girl's best friend: Four-year-old finds comfort with a bull
Politics
Hilarious video pokes fun at expats in Spain over Brexit
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Spain knocked off top spot for world's best restaurant
International
Meet the Spaniard working as North Korea's secret weapon
National
Sheep invade Spanish city after shepherd takes a snooze
Features
Five brilliant ways to beat the crowds in Barcelona
National
Experts warn of jellyfish boom across Spain's beaches
Politics
Are these the weirdest political campaign ads ever?
National
Giant inflatable poo goes walkies from town square
Lifestyle
Spanish study proves fat really ISN'T bad for you
National
President Obama announces three-day visit to Spain in July
3,378
jobs available