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Missing in woods, man healthy, safe

‘I’m so happy to be home and see my family and friends’ — Brad Lambert

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‘I’m so happy to be home and see my family and friends’ — Brad Lambert (WPS HANDOUT)

A missing Winnipeg man who survived for three weeks in the woods said he's grateful to be home.

Brad Lambert, 46, was reported missing on Nov. 15 after he was last seen in Marchand before he left on a hunting trip.

Police and relatives launched an air and ground search for Lambert in the hopes of finding him before he walked into a store in Marchand Saturday morning, hungry and tired.

Lambert said he is not able to disclose many details of the ordeal until he gives police a full statement.

He said he had no food in his truck, but drank melted snow from the surrounding terrain to stay hydrated.

"I hung in there and hoped and waited, and thought of my family and friends and loved ones. That kept me going," said Lambert, who was released from hospital Saturday night.

"I feel physically fine, still just a little bit tired. I'm so happy to be home and see my family and friends. I'm just so moved by the outpouring of help and support from family and friends who were out looking."

With no leads in the missing-persons case, police issued a news release on Friday asking people in Manitoba and Ontario to check their property for the six-foot Lambert.

He had last been seen in the Marchand area, about 85 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, wearing camouflage clothing and driving a Ford F-150 truck, police said.

On Saturday, Lambert showed up in a store in Marchand.

"We gave him a sub sandwich and Gatorade," said Susan Martens, an employee at the store southeast of Steinbach. The 240-pound Winnipeg man looked "skinny" when he entered the store, said Martens.

"He said he was lost in the bush," she said.

"I just told him to phone his wife."

Lambert's father, Norman Lambert, called his son's homecoming a "miracle."

He said his son usually did not go on hunting trips alone, and his truck got stuck in the woods.

Lambert said Brad was deep into the bush and slept in the truck, though there was no heat because the battery died.

He said his son stayed put until he found a trail that led to the main road.

Lambert said aerial searches did not spot the truck or his son, who was wearing camouflage.

"He said he couldn't see a deer or rabbit or anything to shoot," he said. "He was out hunting but couldn't find anything to eat. He just went hungry."

Lambert said there was a huge search party out looking for Brad, who was a guard at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

He said RCMP launched a ground and air search, and many concerned friends and relatives pitched in to look for him.

"It's an amazing thing," he said. "Like a miracle. We're all smiling today."

Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Eric Hofley said the missing-persons unit was informed by family members that Lambert is back and OK.

Police will interview Lambert about his whereabouts, Hofley said, and how he survived so long missing in December's cold.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

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