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Canadian Man Missing for Five Years Found in Brazil

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cbc.ca

A 39-year old Canadian man who went missing five years ago amidst concerns over his mental health is back home in Toronto after miraculously being found alive in Brazil.

Anton Pilipa was last seen in Toronto in 2012 until this past December when Brazilian police spotted him by the side of a highway with no ID. The officer who found him said he was in bad shape, but that Anton was able to communicate that he was from Canada.

“I thought, if he says he’s Canadian, I’m sure I can find his family,” explains officer Helenice Vidigal, who holds Canadian citizenship and was able to speak with Pilipa in English.

Anton’s brother, Stefan Pilipa, says it’s been a long five years for his family, not knowing where his brother could be. “I found myself being really frustrated all the time, always having that aching question: ‘Where is he? What happened to him?'” says Stefan.

Stefan isn’t sure how Anton, who he calls a unique individual and an anti-poverty activist, got all the way to Brazil. He theorizes that a combination of walking and hitchhiking led Anton all the way to South America.

When Stefan found out in December that his brother had been found, he started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover the cost of plane tickets, hospital bills, and consular fees.

Unfortunately, before Stefan could get down to Brazil, Anton fled the hospital where he was being treated and ended up in the city of Manaus, deep in the Amazon Rainforest.

“That is the area where we talk about huge predators like crocodiles and jungle cats. We truly were afraid he could be eaten by one of those animals,” explains Vidigal.

Fortunately, Anton was found again and placed in a Manaus hospital. In late January, Stefan finally made it down to Brazil to bring his brother home.

“His health was starting to deteriorate. We got him just in time,” says Stefan, adding that Anton is now doing “remarkably well.”

Anton’s family is trying to give him his space, as they slowly try to figure out where he’s been and what he’s been doing over the past five years.

Stefan is trying to shield his brother from the press, but before returning home, Anton did tell a reporter in Brazil how glad he was to be found and on his way home.

“I know that I am very lucky to be alive,” Anton said. “I am very happy to be able to return to my family.”