The body of missing hiker Leslie Southwell has been found in the Mount Bogong area in Victoria’s Alps, police have confirmed.
- Leslie Southwell went missing on a 4.7km trek from Cleve Cole Memorial Hut to Michell Hut
- Emergency crews found his body halfway between the huts
- Mr Southwell had been described as “an extremely fit 88-year-old”
Mr Southwell, 88, was hiking with his friends in the area when he became separated from them on Thursday.
He went missing on a 4.7-kilometre trek from Cleve Cole Memorial Hut to Michell Hut.
Wangaratta police area Acting Inspector Kevin Coughlan said emergency crews found Mr Southwell’s body just before 9:00am halfway between the huts.
“He was on the outside of a tent,” he said.
“Until we have some sort of examination by the coroner we won’t know the actual cause of death.
“It would appear some kind of medical condition has impacted him whilst outside his tent.”
Authorities had been concerned for the hiker’s welfare due to his age and the weather conditions overnight, which dropped to below -5C.
About 30 specialist crew members were involved in the search which was suspended at dusk on Saturday.
Twenty-two members resumed the search at 7:00am on Sunday morning.
Leslie Southwell went missing after he left the Cleve Cole Memorial Hut. (Wikimedia Commons: Jord200)
Acting Inspector Coughlan said the terrain made searching difficult, with steep inclines and gullies where there was a risk of avalanches.
“It is unfortunate and it’s a timely reminder for everyone who goes in this extreme alpine conditions during winter that no matter how good you are, no matter how fit you are you can always get into trouble,” he said.
Mr Southwell had been described as “an extremely fit 88-year-old”.
He had a tent, backpack and three days’ worth of food with him when he was reported missing.
Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner.