A three-year-old boy has been reunited with his family after going missing on his rural property in Australia.
Anthony “AJ” Elfalak disappeared without a trace from his family’s home at Yengo Drive in Putty in the New South Wales region just before 12.30pm on Friday.
His family had feared he had been kidnapped as police carried out a four-day search for the missing child.
On Monday, police issued a statement confirming the three-year-old, who is autistic and doesn’t speak, had been found on a nearby riverbank at about 11.30am.
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) September 6, 2021
Authorities said AJ was discovered with a few scrapes to his lower legs and his clothes were soaked through.
But the small child was in overall good health, authorities added.
AJ’s father, also called Anthony, said his son would be brought to Singleton hospital for a full checkup after his initial assessment.
“He’s just clinging to Mum,” he said.
“I know I was acting frantic, but no one can understand what it’s like going through what we went through. I feel incredible. It’s a miracle. He has been bitten by ants and he has fallen over but he is alive. He is alive. It’s amazing. My leg, my hips, my ankles, I can’t walk. I have been in the bush for four days with no sleep. We didn’t stop.
“He was all wet and he was drinking water … We had searched that area head to toe, SES, police the first day it happened, I went around with the police, I don’t know. It’s a miracle.”
NSW Police Supt Tracy Chapman said AJ had drunk water from a puddle in the creek bed.
A helicopter located the missing boy passing over the valley after a four-day search.
“It was a relief more than anything,” she said.
“The longer something goes on, the more worried you become you won’t get an outcome such as this… It’s a good news story for the entire community.”
She added: “Experts we consulted said if he had access to water he was always going to be able to survive for a longer period of time.
“It would be our assumption at this point in time he was in the bush for the whole three days … we’re continuing enquiries to understand what occurred.”