An Australian mother breathed a sigh of relief and said she felt blessed after her 3-year-old son was found alive after reportedly missing in the Australian bush for 4 days.
Anthony “AJ” Elfalak was spotted by police helicopters on Monday, drinking water from a creek on his family’s property in rural New South Wales.
Rescue workers and police, including some on horseback, searched through the weekend before finally spotting the boy, AJ Elfalak, during a helicopter sweep of the area on Monday.
“He is with us. He is safe and well and healthy. That is all that matters,” his mother Kelly Elfalak said Tuesday at the family home in the village of Putty.
Anthony has autism and doesn’t speak, he was last seen at the house on Friday. His family was in fear that he had been abducted.
AJ was found on a riverbank about 500m from his house. Footage shared by New South Wales Police, shows the rescuers saying “I’ve got the boy”.
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) September 6, 2021
AJ had suffered a few scrapes to his lower legs and was found drenched in wet clothes, but was otherwise in good health. His father, Anthony Elfalak, called it a “miracle”.
More than 100 officers and volunteers scoured the bush for AJ. They had earlier passed over the area where he was ultimately found. “He has been bitten by ants and he has fallen over but he is alive. He is alive,” Mr. Elfalak 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. 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 added.
Meanwhile, his mother added, “I want to thank everyone. I am so blessed,” she said. “AJ had a few scratches and bruises,” the mother said. “Other than that he is perfect.”
The family members were seen cheering and rejoicing when they heard the good news as reported by local media.
New South Wales Ambulance official Gerry Pyke said the boy’s spirits picked up after he was reunited with his parents. “All he wanted to do was eat, and he got stuck into about three slices of pizza and a banana so he’s pretty good.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also expressed relief, “What a relief. I can’t imagine how traumatic this experience has been for AJ and his parents,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a message on Twitter Monday.
The reason for the boy wandering off from his home is still not clear. His parents said that AJ had been playing with his brothers in the morning on Friday and usually stuck close to his mother.
A New South Wales Police spokesman said they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance.