The French hiker, Simon Gautier had disappeared since 9th August 2019, 200 km south of Naples. His body must be recovered on Monday morning.
Rescuers mobilized to find Simon Gautier, a 27-year-old Frenchman who had called for help 9 days ago after he injured himself on a hike in southern Italy, are getting ready to recover on Monday 19th August 2019. a dead body, spotted Sunday night in a ravine.
“It is with great sadness that I learned that Simon Gautier’s body was found dead in Italy tonight,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
“I thank the Italian authorities who mobilized to find him,” he added, while the relatives of the young man have for several days denounced the lack of resources committed to trying to find him.
Italie – Décès de Simon Gautier (18.08.19) – France-Diplomatie – Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères https://t.co/FiLQXGPifi
— Jean-Yves Le Drian (@JY_LeDrian) 18 August 2019
On the spot, some media announced almost instantaneously the discovery of the body in Belvedere di Ciolandre, on the coast about 200 km south of Naples, while carabineers and alpine rescue confirmed it in the evening.
According to several media reports, a member of the alpine rescue team scanning the area with binoculars spotted the young man’s backpack from a distance, then his still body near him. A team dispatched to the scene could only note the death.
Determine the causes
Relief workers, however, chose to wait for daylight Monday morning to evacuate. An investigation should then be opened to determine the causes of death and whether the young man could have been saved.
Simon Gautier, who had been living in Rome for two years to write a thesis in art history, had left Policastro Bussentino on Thursday, August 8, for a solo hike to Naples. The next day, shortly after 9:00 am, he called for help with his mobile phone, explaining that he fell off a cliff and broke both legs.
But he could not tell where he was. “In the middle of nowhere, on the coast” …
“From the moment that Simon’s call for help reached the carabinieri (…), the operations began immediately to geolocate the phone,” said the Salerno prefecture, which depends on the area, in a statement Saturday. A complicated operation because there are very few antennas in this uninhabited region.
According to Simon Gautier’s relatives, relief efforts have been slow to mobilize. The first helicopter took off only 48 hours after the call for help, and shore crews had long been few in number for a rugged research area of more than 140 km2.
And it was not until a week later, when the Policastro commune broadcast images of surveillance cameras showing the passage of the young man, in a black tank top and Bermuda jeans, that witnesses said to have sniffed the evening of August 8th on a beach where he seemed to be preparing to spend the night.
These testimonials and “technical data” related to his phone have allowed to narrow the search around the three trails he had been able to borrow in the morning from this beach.
“Very sporty and organized”
During the week, small teams of experts and dozens of volunteers, shepherds and inhabitants of the area but also about twenty of the young man’s relatives came looking for him. They surveyed the paths of this region where mountains and cliffs flow in the sea, under a blazing sun.
His relatives kept hope, explaining that he was “very sporty and organized”, that he had prepared his trip well, that he had food and water reserves …
Gradually, the mobilization of experts has strengthened: firefighters, dog teams, alpine rescue … Sunday, they were a hundred to work to inspect every nook, with a helicopter but also drones.
The French ambassador to Italy, Christian Masset, also went on-site Sunday morning. In the evening, France sent a psychological support team to support the young man’s relatives, especially his parents and sisters, who had been there for several days.
Sunday evening, an outdoor mass was said in the village of Scario, the closest to the research area, for Simon Gautier and rescuers, before a small torchlight retreat to maintain hope. At the same time, the rescuers found the body.