Boy (3) rescued after four days lost in Australian bush

Anthony Elfalak went missing from his family’s property north of Sydney on Friday

Three-year-old Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, has been found alive and well after going missing from his family’s remote rural property near Putty, north of Sydney, late on Friday (September 3rd) morning. Video: Reuters

 

A three-year-old boy who went missing in the Australian bush on Friday has been found safe, sitting in a stream and cupping water in his hands to drink, after a search.

Hundreds of people had been searching for Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, since he went missing from his family’s remote rural property near the village of Putty, north of Sydney, late on Friday morning.

The crew of a police helicopter spotted him sitting in shallow water in a stream bed late on Monday morning about 470 metres from his home, police superintendent Tracy Chapman said.

He was reported to be in good condition but was taken to a hospital for observation, ambulance officers said.

His father, Anthony Elfalak, said his son had been bitten by ants, had nappy rash and suffered abrasions.

“It’s a miracle,” the father told reporters after he and his wife, Kelly Elfalak, were reunited with their son.

“He’s just clinging to mum.

“As soon as he heard his mum, he opened his eyes and looked at her and fell asleep,” he said.

The boy was found in an area that had been searched before.

Police are assuming he spent the entire time in the woods, Ms Chapman said.

His ability to find drinking water was a key factor in his survival because of the danger of dehydration, she said.

Overnight temperatures in the area dipped as low as 6 degrees.

The boy was kneeling in the stream when a State Emergency Service officer reached him, SES chief inspector Simon Merrick said.

The officer “stated that he (Anthony) turned towards him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget”, Mr Merrick said.

The paramedic who examined the boy, Gerry Pyke, described him as a “little survivor”.

“Little AJ’s condition was quite remarkable,” Mr Pyke said.

“He was very, very thankful.

Three-year-old Anthony Elfalak is carried by a paramedic into an ambulance after he is found on the family property on Monday. Photograph: AP
Three-year-old Anthony Elfalak is carried by a paramedic into an ambulance after he is found on the family property on Monday. Photograph: AP

“I could see that in his eyes.”

Anthony reportedly slept in an ambulance after he was reunited with his parents, then woke up hungry.

“He got stuck into about three slices of pizza and a banana so he’s pretty good,” Mr Pyke said. - Agencies