Shannon Leah Fraser and friends visited a pond in the Australian bush last month to "chill out" after a "bender," her partner Heath Cassady says, per the Courier-Mail. But the relaxing escape soon turned into a nightmare when the mother of three became separated from her mates. Cassady told police he last saw Fraser, 30, in a nearby gazebo but returned minutes later to find it empty, the Brisbane Times reports. Divers searched the swimming hole, officers combed the bush, and helicopters kept watch overhead, but Fraser was nowhere to be found—until yesterday. She surprised a banana farmer at breakfast when she stumbled out of the bush, 35 pounds lighter than when she entered it and just 30 yards from where she was last seen, ABC News reports.
She apparently followed colored markers left for her by search teams; an official noted that her location had "gone out of what we could reasonably expect [of] a person who is lost in those circumstances." As for her condition, "her whole body is scarred and peeling," Cassady tells the BBC, which reports Fraser survived on creek water, small fish, and insects. She'll undergo surgery today to have stones and splinters removed from her feet. She also has infected cuts and a sunburn so severe she sat in a creek for three days to soothe it, says her mother. Now that the ordeal—which she told family included being chased by a 6-foot freshwater crocodile—is over, it looks like a wedding is on the way. ABC News reports Fraser proposed to Cassady just two days before she vanished. Over the course of 17 days, "I could always feel it in my heart that she was alive," he says. "There was no way she was gone." (Read more survival stories.)