A Spanish man who was declared dead five years ago because he had not been seen in nearly 20 years has reportedly been found alive in a forest in Tuscany, northern Italy.
Carlos Sanchez Ortiz de Salazar, no 47, was a doctor in Seville when he disappeared in 1996 during a bout of severe depression, The Local reports. The Daily Mail reports, however, that de Salazar disappeared in 1995, when he was 26 years old.
After being missing for almost 20 years, the Spanish doctor was recently discovered by two mushroom pickers who strayed off the forest path.
The pair reportedly discovered his camp after following a trail of plastic bottles and dirty water canisters.
De Salazar, who allegedly had a dirty face and a beard, scared the men at first. They returned quickly to the path and only went back to the camp later with the head forest ranger.
“I'm Spanish, my name is Carlos and I've been living here since 1997,” he told them, according to the Local. “I don't want to live among people: now that you have found me I need to get out of here.”
The men asked him to prove his story, so de Salazar showed them an old, out-of-date passport bearing his name.
They took photos of the document using their smartphones, and passed the information on to an organization for missing persons.
The man’s parents were traced, and made the journey to Italy Nov. 6.
“That's him – that's our Carlos,” his parents reportedly said, sobbing when they saw the picture.
A search party went into the woods the next day from the town of Scarlino, including de Salazar’s parents.
“There was no sign of him,” said Marcello Stella, mayor of Scarlino. “Who knows if we will find him again.”
De Salazar’s family is not giving up yet.
“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,” said Amelia, his mother.
Amelia added that they were concerned for de Salazar’s health, according to Daily Mail.
“Thank you for giving us hope that has given some relief in the terrible tragedy that we have been living,” Olga, his sister, wrote on Twitter.