Rider beats 40C heat to survive bush ordeal

A quad bike rider was in hospital with severe dehydration last night after surviving almost 54 hours without water and food in bush east of Perth in 40C heat.

The dramatic break in the search came about 10am yesterday when the blue quad bike Paul Pyke, 35, was riding was found off Yarra Road - outside the 300sqkm emergency services had been searching since Sunday.

Four trackers from the police tactical response group followed "distinct footprints" south and as they ran along the trail they found more clues Mr Pyke was alive.

Police confirmed about 2pm they found cigarette butts of his brand.

At 3.55pm the command post was told he was found alive and coherent about 8km from the bike.

He had walked that far on Sunday before sheltering under a tree and conserving energy until found.

Mr Pyke was sunburnt, dehydrated and covered in bites but was conscious and talked to rescuers.

Clearly overwhelmed by the number of people seeing him into the RAC Rescue helicopter, Mr Pyke initially hid his face but slowly revealed a relieved smile to emergency personnel.

He said he was exhausted and conditions were very hot. He was looking forward to some rest.

"Thank you to everyone who was looking for me," Mr Pyke said.

He managed to get up from his stretcher and climbed into the helicopter with help from medics.

News quickly spread among friends that Mr Pyke was safe.

Lucia Posa spent the day at the command post with her boyfriend Steven Madaschi, who had been riding with Mr Pyke.

"It's been exhausting, anxiously waiting here," she said. "Coming on the third night, you are looking at life or death.

"It was really stressing me out that he might not make it.

"But he's pretty strong-headed so he had it in him I guess. He's a wonderful guy."

Clint Epskamp was "chuffed" his friend was safe. "He's got a very good heart," he said.

He said he feared the worst as the temperature rose.

Mr Pyke was riding with two friends when he disappeared about 10am in the maze of bush tracks off Gorrie Road, Sawyers Valley.

An air and land search was launched and fears grew because of the heat. Yesterday was the hottest February day in three years, with a maximum of 40.5C.

Outback survival expert Bob Cooper said it was remarkable that Mr Pyke survived the ordeal.

He urged people to take water and something to light a fire to keep warm and signal even on a short outing in the bush.

The West Australian

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