Stopping to camp for the night, the man drove the unidentified victims to Tea Tree Point beach near Salt Creek in the remote Coorong National Park where he turned on the women, attacking them and allegedly attempting to kill them, according to The Guardian and other Australian media outlets.
One of the women managed to escape and run through the sand dunes naked to the safety of fishermen nearby.
“She ran straight to the car yelling,” Abdul-Karim Mohammed, a fisherman, told Seven News via The Advertiser. “She opened the back door, jumped straight in and like 'Get me out of here, get me out of here. He's going to kill us all.'
“First of all she had no clothes on so we just straight away gave her our jacket.
“She had some scratches and that on the legs. Look liked she'd been pulled around, dragged around and that.”
The fishermen contacted the Salt Creek roadhouse around 6:30 p.m., and police and paramedics were summoned.
“She was telling us about her friend, her friend was lost in the dunes and she was worried about it,” another fisherman said, according to The Advertiser. “Her and her friend split up. They were running different directions … She got away and she said, 'I want to find my friend.'”
According to NBC News, police and local residents searched the area and found the second woman badly injured. Seven News reported that one of the backpackers is believed to have been hit in the head with a hammer while the other was run over with a vehicle.
Later, police, with assistance from the public, found and arrested the 59-year-old suspect about two hours northeast from where the assault occurred, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. His car was found covered in blood.
The Herald reported that the women were traveling from Adelaide to Victoria with the man.
The man reportedly turned on the young women, allegedly holding them captive and sexually assaulting them before trying to kill them.
“They effectively found themselves in a situation that has turned out to be scary and physically bad for them,” Superintendent [James] Blandford said.
He described the terrain as “difficult and harsh,” adding communication in the area was “challenging,” and vehicles often became bogged.
The women, one a 23-year-old nurse from Brazil and the other a 20-something from Germany, were transported to Flinders Medical Center with serious injuries, the South Australian Police reported. They were last reported in stable condition.
The suspect from Morphett Vale was charged with attempted murder and kidnapping.
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