Shannon Leah Fraser is a survivor.
There is no other way to describe a woman who found her own way back to civilization weeks after vanishing.
Last seen on September 21, the mother of three stumbled out of the Australian bush nearly 100 feet from where she was last seen.
Shannon had reportedly visited a waterhole in Cairns, Queensland with her boyfriend Heath Cassady and a male friend. The group headed to the location after a few days of heavy drinking to “chill out.”
Cassady told police that he’d left the 30-year-old sitting alone for no more than ten minutes.
When he returned, his girlfriend was nowhere to be found.
Fraser had inexplicably disappeared.
The authorities were informed of the situation and a wide-scale search effort was launched. Despite the hundreds of man hours put into finding Shannon, there was simply no trace of the missing woman.
It reached the point where authorities were anticipating the discovery of a body rather than a live victim.
Her partner Cassady refused to give up hope, even as he wrestled with the fear that she might have been the victim of a crocodile attack.
“There was no way [Shannon] was gone. I could always feel it in my heart that she was alive.”
He would be vindicated when she was found alive, having been spotted by a banana farmer. Shannon was battered, bruised, and her clothes were badly torn. She was also about 35 pounds lighter than when she first disappeared!
Her story of survival was an incredible one. Shannon explained that she’d wandered away from the area by following the river and then climbing up a mountain ridge. Unfortunately, she was unable to find her way back. Fraser became increasingly lost and disoriented with each passing day.
How did Shannon Leah Fraser manage to survive for 17 days in the Australian rainforest with no supplies and insufficient clothing?
It is a question that many onlookers have asked as the amazing story continues to unfold.
Fraser claims that she lived on a meager diet of bugs, fish, and water from a creek.
Shannon suffered from severe burns caused by continuous exposure to sunlight and extreme heat. She reportedly rested in creek water for a period of days to relieve the pain.
It was the love Fraser had for her three young children that continuously inspired her to keep going no matter what. This determination resulted in her eventually finding her way out of the bush.
— The Australian (@australian) October 10, 2014
Queensland Police Inspector Rhys Newton didn’t know what to make of the spectacular turn of events, especially on the heels of an unarguably thorough investigation into Fraser’s whereabouts.
Newton did say he felt it was too early to speculate about the circumstances of Shannon’s disappearance.
“This is, I don’t know about miracles, but this certainly is pretty unique that a person has been able to survive in that terrain, in that environment, for 17 days.”
Understandably, authorities would like the opportunity to speak with Ms. Fraser about her incredible experience and better understand how, despite all their efforts, they managed to miss her.
It will likely be a few days as Shannon is still recovering from exhaustion and injuries.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]