Nearly two decades ago, a doctor from Spain disappeared from his home and couldn’t be found. Authorities assumed that he had long passed away, never to be seen again. But recently, it has been discovered that he was alive all this time, living as a hermit in a forest of Tuscany, Italy.

Mushroom pickers who were searching in the woods found Carlos Sanchez Ortiz de Salazar who had been missing for more than 19 years. Sanchez told the mushroom pickers his story, and he shared some photographs, documents and a university library card.

According to Sanchez, he has been living in the woods since he left his home in Seville in 1996. The mushroom pickers said that Sanchez appeared quite unsettled by the fact that he had been discovered, and he disappeared into the forest quickly after their meeting.

The mushroom pickers shared their findings with an Italian organization called Penelope, which is known for locating lost people. A Spanish organization known as Sos Desaparecidos helped to locate the family of Sanchez.

Now a mysterious forest dweller, Sanchez had graduated with a doctorate in medicine. He was believed to have been suffering from severe depression, causing him to run away from Spain when he was just 26 years old. In 2010, he was formally declared to be dead, and his family had given up all hope.

Sanchez was found living in a self-made shelter in the Maremma region of southern Tuscany. Sanchez used three jerry cans to collect water, and had a tarp strung between trees to give him cover. The region is known for having rolling hills and thick forests that are home to many deer and wild boar.

Upon hearing the news, his family travelled to the region in hopes of finding him, but they have been unable to locate him. His camp was discovered to have been dismantled, and there is no trace of the former doctor.

Sanchez’s mother Amelia said, “When they told us that it was him, it was as if our son had been born again. He’s alive and that is the important thing. We will respect his wishes and his freedom, but we won’t go home until we have at least given him a hug, even for a few moments.”

For now, it is unknown where Sanchez will go or what his plans are.

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