A missing 3-year-old autistic boy who was feared to have been abducted was found safe on Monday after surviving three days alone in the Australian bush.
Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak, who went missing from his family’s home in Putty on Friday, was spotted Monday morning as he desperately scooped water into his mouth in a creek less than half a mile from home.
“Stand by — I’ve got the boy,” a rescuer in a police helicopter said, according to video footage released by New South Wales Police that showed AJ sitting in dirty water up to his waist as he desperately drank.
Other heartwarming video footage showed family members falling to their knees and raising their hands to the skies as they learned AJ had been found, with repeated, triumphant screams of, “He’s alive!”
AJ’s dad, Anthony Elfalak, who had assumed his son was abducted called the rescue a “miracle.
“He has been bitten by ants, and he has fallen over, but he is alive. He’s alive!” the father told television crews.
The boy was taken to hospital to be evaluated but appeared healthy aside from some scrapes from a fall and a diaper rash, officials said.
While his son was still missing, Anthony Elfalak had said, “No one can understand what it’s like going through what we went through.
“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 said of the huge hunt.
It was not immediately clear how AJ who doesn’t speak wandered off from home. He had been playing with his brothers on Friday morning and usually stuck close to his mother, the family said.
Police believed they were investigating an abduction and seized a white vehicle Sunday that reportedly drove past the rural home at the same time AJ went missing, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.