Australian police found a body today they suspect is the only casualty among three people who became stranded in the outback almost two weeks ago.
Police have yet to formally confirm the remains found south of the town of Alice Springs are those of Claire Hockridge, 46.
Police have not revealed details of the circumstances of the death, which will be investigated by a coroner, a police statement said.
Ms Hockeridge, her partner Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, and their companion Phu Tran, 40, were in an SUV that became bogged in a dry riverbed during an afternoon sightseeing drive on November 19.
McBeath-Riley, who had been driving and became lost, decided last Thursday to stay at a salty waterhole with the couple’s Staffordshire terrier while her companions attempted to trek towards a highway.
They were carrying water and were planning to walk at night to avoid the desert heat, which came close to 40 degrees Celsius in recent days.
By that stage they had spent nine nights in the open with biscuits, instant noodles, bottled water and cans of pre-mixed vodka to sustain them.
Ms McBeath-Riley and the dog were rescued by a search helicopter on Sunday after a cattle rancher alerted police to suspicious tire tracks, which led searchers to the abandoned pickup truck.
Mr Tran was found by cattle rancher Ted Fogarty on Tuesday. Mr Tran and Ms McBeath-Riley were both treated at an Alice Springs hospital for dehydration and exposure.
Mr Fogarty said he found Mr Tran at a water tank on his property where Mr Tran had been drinking and cooling since Monday. Mr Tran had last seen Ms Hockeridge two days earlier following a fence line, Mr Fogarty said.
“He said he was coming with me,” Mr Fogarty told The Australian newspaper. “He was pretty happy to see me.”
The women were living in Alice Springs and had been showing local landmarks to Mr Tran, who was visiting from the south coast city of Adelaide.