Monday, 13 July, 2020

Body of third missing Alice Springs traveller found by police

Deanna Wagner | 04 December, 2019, 15:58

Ms McBeath-Riley, 52, was found at a waterhole east of the Stuarts Well area, south of Alice Springs, late on Sunday afternoon.

The body has not been identified but it is believed to be 46-year-old Claire Hockridge, Northern Territory Police said.

Superintendent Pauline Vicary said experienced officers were working carefully to ensure any signs or tracks left by Ms Hockridge were not disturbed.

Hockeridge, her partner Tamra McBeath-Riley, 52, and their companion Phu Tran, 40, were in a SUV that became bogged in a dry riverbed during an afternoon sightseeing drive on November 19.

The body was found 8 1/2 kilometres (5.3 miles) from the highway that Hockridge had been attempting to reach, Vicary said.

"Police located the body, which is believed to be that Claire Hockridge during search efforts", Northern Territory police said in an emailed statement.

The group spent three days drinking through a supply of water, cans of iced vodka, packs of biscuits and beef noodles.

Tran was found by cattle rancher Ted Fogarty on Tuesday.

Two of Ms Hockridge's companions were found alive earlier this week after extensive search efforts.

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Authorities were first alerted that the trio was missing a week after they first set out, and the ute was located on Sunday with a note indicating McBeath-Riley had walked in one direction and Hockridge and Tran had walked together towards the Stuart Highway about 22km away.

"Ted, the landowner near the cattle farm, he's a battler, he's got 1,000 head of cattle and he dropped everything to make sure I was all right", Tran told reporters.

Police warned today that Ms Hockridge had been missing in remote Central Australia for more than two weeks with limited to no water supplies.

After almost two weeks, Ms McBeath-Riley was found on Sunday after police discovered the trio's vehicle which had become bogged in the Hugh River.

Daytime temperatures in the Australian outback often exceed 40C (104F), with temperatures plummeting after sundown.

Formal identification is yet to be conducted and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.

They stayed there for several days, digging into sand below the vehicle to shelter from the sun and surviving on minimal rations. "At night they could sleep in the vehicle".

For a few days, the group stayed close to the auto, surviving on the limited supplies they had packed, McBeath-Riley said.