Canberra, Australia. A 3-year-old, wearing a sweater and diaper, was found alive in a creek on Monday, three days after wandering through the woods in a rural area of Australia, drinking water from his hands.
Hundreds have searched for Anthony “AJ” Alfalac, who has autism and is unable to communicate verbally, as he disappeared from his family’s property near the rural town of Putty in northern Sydney on Friday morning.
Superintendent of Police Tracy Chapman said a police helicopter crew found him sitting in a shallow stream about 1,540 feet from his home around Monday afternoon.
Paramedics said the minor’s condition was fine, but he was taken to the hospital for observation.
His father, Anthony Elfalak, said that AJ had been bitten by ants, had diaper rash and suffered scabies.
“It’s a miracle,” the father told reporters as he and his wife, Kelly, were reunited with their son.
“He is clinging to his mother. As soon as he heard this, he opened his eyes, looked at her and fell asleep,” he said.
The AJ was found in an area that had already been inspected. Police believe he spent the entire time in the woods, Chapman said.
Chapman said that because of the risk of dehydration, their ability to find clean water was the key to survival. At night, the temperature in the area drops to 6 °C (43 Fahrenheit).
Dependency Inspector Simon Merrick said AJ was kneeling in the stream when a state emergency service officer came up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
The officer “assured that he turned to look at her with a big smile he would never forget,” Merrick said.
AJ, the paramedic examining Gerry Pyke described him as a “little survivor.”
“Little AJ is fine,” said Pyke. “I was very, very grateful. I looked into his eyes”.
AJ falls asleep in the ambulance after being reunited with his parents, and wakes up hungry.
“He had three slices of pizza and a banana, so that’s great,” Pyke said.