CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A 3-year-old boy who spent three nights lost in rugged Australian woodland was playing with toys at his family home on Tuesday, as relatives and rescuers celebrated the happy ending to a desperately difficult search.
Anthony “AJ” Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, was taken to a hospital for observation after he was found Monday sitting in a shallow creek and drinking water with cupped hands on his family’s remote rural property near the village of Putty, north of Sydney.
His mother, Kelly Elfalak, brought him home on Monday night to sleep in his own bed.
She thanked the hundreds of emergency services officers and volunteers who had scoured the steep terrain surrounding the house since AJ vanished on Friday morning.
“Then probably the proudest moment was picking up the (radio) mike and I said to the little fella: ‘Hey, how about we tell mum we’re coming home?” Chalmers said.
AJ responded by pointing at the name tag and SES badge on Chalmers’ uniform.
AJ’s family suspected that he had been abducted after hours of searching failed to find any trace of him and reporting seeing a pickup truck nearby. But police do not believe anything suspicious was behind the disappearance.