Anton Pilipa is thought to have made much of the 10,000-mile journey on foot before he was found wandering in northern Brazil.
February 10, 2017
A Canadian man who disappeared in 2012 has been reunited with his family after he was discovered wandering along a main road in northern Brazil.
Anton Pilipa, 39, is believed to have walked, hitchhiked and hidden in the back of transport trucks during his 10,000-mile journey from Scarborough, Canada, to the Brazilian Amazon.
His brother, Stefan, flew back with him to Toronto this week after he was released from hospital more than five years after he initially vanished.
Stefan told CBC News: “I found myself being really frustrated all the time [during those years], always having that aching question ‘where is he? What happened to him?’
“I feel amazed that he’s alive and had made it that far.”
The Pilipa family were notified in December that Anton had been picked up by Brazilian state police in Rondonia the previous month, wandering at the side of a highway.
He had no identification and offered officers little information apart from that he was from Canada.
Helenice Vidigal, a Brazilian-Canadian police officer, searched online before discovering his identity on Twitter and getting in touch with his family.
A GoFundMe page set up by his brother raised nearly $13,000 to cover the costs of getting him home to Canada.
But Anton – an anti-poverty activist – ran away from a hospital in Porto Velho and fled into the jungle, sparking fears he could be attacked by wild animals.
Vidigal, writing on Facebook, said: “Here is where we started to really fear for his safety, because up there big predators like jaguars, alligators, snakes among other deadly animals are real, we are talking about the Amazon jungle.”
Anton was found safe again last month in Manaus, and reunited with Stefan when he flew to Brazil.
Stefan told CBC News that his brother “looked really rough”, adding: “His health was starting to deteriorate. We got him just in time.”
The full details of his journey have not been made clear, but according to his family, he reached as far south as Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he was reportedly refused entry to the National Library.
In January 2011, Anton was involved in an altercation and charged with assault and weapons offences. He went missing before he was due in court.
After returning to Toronto on Monday, he was arrested by police for the outstanding charges before being released on bail.
His brother has said Anton suffered from mental health problems and had begun treatment for schizophrenia before he disappeared.