It is every parent’s worse nightmare. A child goes missing, and after searching relentlessly, there’s still no sign of what happened. However, unlike other dire situations, this story has a happy ending. A missing three-year-old child from Australia was found Monday after disappearing for three days in the woods.
Anthony “AJ” Elfalak is an autistic, nonverbal child. He went missing on his parents’ rural and somewhat remote property in Putty, north of Sydney, Friday. It’s unclear how the child wandered off.
After searching for their child, the boy’s parents acted quickly and alerted the Hunter Valley Police District. The authorities responded to the call immediately. Search efforts were underway.
Elfalak’s parents had concerns that the boy could have been kidnapped after spotting a pick-up truck in the area. They spotted the vehicle around the time of the boy’s disappearance, according to Fox News.
However, authorities didn’t believe the missing child had been abducted. The intense search of the property continued. Both Kelly and Anthony Elfalak were frantic with worry by this point.
Rescue Efforts Payoff in Missing Child Case
On Monday, in what his parents are saying is a “miracle”, the young boy was spotted by a creek on the Elfalak’s property. He was about 1,500 feet from their home.
The young child was also relatively unharmed. Aside from a diaper rash, some ant bites, and a few abrasions, Elfalak was in good condition.
The New South Wales police shared rescue footage of the boy when he was found. Elfalak was scooping water up with his hands and drinking from a creek.
“I can’t explain it, I’m so blessed,” the mother told reporters while holding AJ. “I’m so happy that he is here. He’s with us, he’s safe and well and healthy, that’s all that matters.”
The child, now safely at home, is spending time playing, sleeping, eating, and being with his parents.
Helicopter pilot Jonathan Smith, who spotted the boy from the police aircraft, said the moment was a relief for everyone.
“We were all emotional and I said to the boys … ‘If that doesn’t make you happy, nothing will,'” Smith said. “We’ve been involved in many jobs that don’t turn out like this and it’s been the other end of the spectrum and it’s just really nice to have a positive outcome like this for once.”
After Disappearance, Hiker Never Found
While the young Australian boy is quite lucky he didn’t wander too far from home or encounter any large predators, another hiker’s outlook isn’t so great.
Nearly a year ago, Esther Dingley, a 37-year-old British woman went missing among the Pic de Sauvegarde. This region between Spain and France is beautiful, but ti can also be treacherous.
Dingley was taking a break from her boyfriend and decided to go the hike alone.
“When you’re not 100 percent okay with your partner, you’re not going to be totally balanced emotionally,” said Spanish hiker Laura Adomaityte. “Esther said they were taking a break and didn’t know if they were going to get back together again.”
Adomaityte and Dingley met earlier in the hike and shared a few conversations. The Spanish hiker noticed the woman didn’t pack much in the way of food before she went missing.
However, Dingley was never found. Her longtime boyfriend suspects foul play, though there were hardly any traces of the woman’s whereabouts at all, according to authorities.