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Spanish Doctor Gone Missing 20 Years Ago Is Found Living Deep in Italian Forest

A Spanish doctor who went missing 20 years ago and was declared dead by authorities 14 years later, after nothing was seen or heard of him, was recently found living deep in a forest in Tuscany, by a couple of villagers foraging for mushrooms.

Carlos Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar, who should now be 47-years-old, disappeared from his home in Seville, Spain, in 1996, after falling into a deep depression. His family spent years looking for him, but after being unable to find any kind of clues to what had happened, they eventually gave up, and Spanish authorities declared him dead in 2010. However, two weeks, ago, a man claiming to be Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar was found living in a forest outside Scalino, a town in Tuscany, by two local mushroom pickers.

The two foragers had gone into the forest hoping to find some mushrooms after a weekend of heavy rainfall, but after having little luck, they decided to stray off the beaten path in order to change their fortune. But instead of mushrooms, they discovered a trail of plastic bottles and water canisters which eventually led them to the camp of a man who they say had “a dirty face and large beard”.

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Photo: Periodista Digital

Terrified at the sight of this forest hermit they turned around and ran for their lives, but returned a few hours later with the head forest ranger. Their initial fears proved unfounded, as the man simply 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.”

Just before he started packing his stuff, the men asked him if he could provide proof of his identity, and he showed them a battered, faded and long-expired passport bearing the name Carlos Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar. One of them managed to snap a photo of it with a smartphone, which they used to inform local authorities of his presence and the missing persons association. They got in touch with their counterparts in Spain and they quickly got in touch with Carlos’ family.

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“That’s him – that’s our Carlos,” his parents said as soon as they saw the photo of his passport. “He is alive and that is the most important thing.”

On Saturday, they joined a search party and ventured towards the camp that the mushroom pickers had discovered. However, they only found some canisters full of water and an old tarp the man had been using for shelter. As he told the men who first found him, Carlos had moved to another location. “There was no sign of him,” said the mayor of Scarlino, Marcello Stella. “Who knows if we will find him again.”

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Photo: Il Tirreno

But his parents are not prepared to give up on the the son they 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.

Regarding to his means of survival in the wild for so long, some believe he was able to cultivate and forage for food in the forest, while others think he relied on raiding trash bins on the edge of nearby towns like Scarlino, especially since some of the locals claimed to have seen Carlos Sánchez Ortiz de Salazar in the past.

Sources: The Local, Corriere della Sera

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