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Camper missing for three days found on remote road

Christopher Cloutier was bushed, but at least he was out of the bush.

The Winnipeg man was found tired and limping Tuesday afternoon near an old logging road -- barely visible on a map -- and driven to Lac du Bonnet after spending 72 hours in the eastern Manitoba wilderness.

The 24-year-old went missing Saturday afternoon when he was separated from his camping group near Shoe Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park.

Searchers combed a wide area by land, air and water without success.

A fellow Winnipegger, just passing by around 2:45 p.m., happened to notice him on the rough and rugged, rarely used Translicence Road, which runs off Highway 304.

Although RCMP hadn't confirmed the news as of late Tuesday, Barry Tardiff of Winnipeg told the Free Press he spotted Cloutier and eventually gave him a lift to Lac du Bonnet.

"I saw this guy out in the middle of nowhere," said Tardiff, who was doing some carpentry work for a friend at a remote outpost. "He was way in the bush.

"He came up to my truck and jumped right in. He was happy to see me."

Friends on Facebook have also commented Cloutier was found safe and relatively sound.

RCMP said Monday when he was last seen, Cloutier had food and supplies in his backpack.

Tardiff said Cloutier looked tired and was limping, but otherwise seemed fine.

"He was tired and he hurt his leg somehow, but his spirits were up," said Tardiff, who admitted he missed news reports a camper was missing in the provincial park.

"I didn't hear a thing," he said.

Tardiff said Cloutier told him he made a couple of fires, but he never saw anyone during the time he was lost.

He also said he had some water with him during the ordeal.

Tardiff was prepared to drive Cloutier into Winnipeg, but the men stopped at Trappers Esso station just outside Lac du Bonnet and the RCMP were called.

Luc Arcouette, owner of the gas bar and restaurant, was shocked to see the missing man walk in.

"He was limping, he was pretty dirty," said Arcouette. "I said, 'You're the guy who's been in the bush for three days. You're not going anywhere.' "

Arcouette said he served up a cheeseburger to Cloutier -- on the house -- while they waited for the RCMP. "I told him, 'You were national news but you wouldn't know it. You were in the bush.' "

Cloutier was taken to the hospital in Pinawa as a precaution, said Arcouette.

Manitoba Conservation officers, Search and Rescue Manitoba, the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association assisted RCMP with the search.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

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