Missing Austrian hiker heads home after brief disappearance

A 23-year-old Austrian backpacker, whose disappearance near Whitehorse last week prompted a desperate plea for help from his mother on social media, is back home today.

A 23-year-old Austrian backpacker, whose disappearance near Whitehorse last week prompted a desperate plea for help from his mother on social media, is back home today.

Stefan Josef Petrakovits was supposed to board a flight on Aug. 7 after a two-week holiday in the territory, but he never made it to the Whitehorse airport that day.

When his mother, Elisabeth, hadn’t heard from him two days later, she turned to Facebook in an attempt to spread the word amongst Yukoners and find him.

“We are very concerned that he may have had an accident and needs help,” she wrote in a lengthy post on Aug. 9, which has been shared over 8,300 times.

According to her, Petrakovits was traveling alone and backpacking upstream along the Yukon River.

But it turns out her son “lost track of time and/or underestimated the distances in the wilderness” and missed his flight to Vancouver, said his cousin Veronika Haberler, who wrote to the News yesterday.

“He was planning the trip by himself – which was obviously not the best thing to do. All that counts now is that he wasn’t injured and that he is on his flight back home.”

Petrakovits arrived in Whitehorse on July 26 and had planned on going camping, fishing and hiking until Aug. 7, Elisabeth wrote in her Facebook post.

The last contact Petrakovits had with his parents was on July 27, when he called his father from a cellphone.

Whitehorse RCMP spokesperson Julia Fox said Petrakovits walked into the detachment on Monday morning to notify them he was safe. It remains unclear how Petrakovits found out about the search for him.

Haberler said she wanted to share her “appreciation and gratitude” to everyone who helped in the search for her cousin.

“My whole family, especially my auntie and uncle (Stefan’s parents) and his brother and sister are over the moon to have him back soon safe and sound,” she wrote.

Haberler said she was especially thankful to the RCMP in Whitehorse and Dawson City, the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa and the people at Dawson City River Hostel and The Caribou RV Park.

The search for Petrakovits came just a week after a 30-year-old Ontario hiker went missing in Kluane National Park.

The body of Yoichi Kubota, from Cambridge, Ont., was found on July 30 along the Canada Creek area.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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