Fishermen rescue naked fugitive from Australian tree

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By The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Two fishermen have rescued a naked fugitive who they found sitting on a tree branch in Australian crocodile habitat.

Cam Faust said on Wednesday he and fellow recreational fisher Kev Joiner heard the 40-year-old man yell for help on Sunday as they set crab traps from their dinghy in mangroves on the outskirts of the northern city of Darwin.

Faust said the stranger -- who was covered in mud, cuts and insect bites -- had explained that he had been lost for four days, survived by eating snails and had used his clothes “for bits and pieces over the way.”

“It didn’t make sense to us,” Faust told Nine Network television, referring to the explanation for his nudity.

“He had a nest made up in the tree, and he was only laying a meter (39 inches) above the water and there were crocs in the water so he has done well to survive,” Faust said.

Joiner said the friends hesitated before bringing the man on board.

“Once we’d seen how bad he was and how many cuts he had all over him and he was dehydrated and pretty weak, so we thought we’d better get him in the boat,” Joiner said.

“We thought he just must have had a big night after New Year’s and got lost and done himself a mischief in the bush,” Joiner added.

Faust said he stripped to his underwear and handed the man his shorts and a beer as the trio made their way back to Darwin.

“He looked like he needed a beer, although he was in a bad way,” Faust said.

An ambulance was waiting at a Darwin boat ramp when they arrived.

The man was taken to a Darwin hospital, where he was placed under police guard as he was treated for exposure.

Police Northern Watch Commander Len Turner said the man had been free on bail after being charged with armed robbery. But the fugitive had cut off his electronic monitoring device last week and attempted to evade police.

Faust said he decided against visiting the man in hospital after discovering he had been wanted by police.