Boy Missing in Aussie Bush Found, but Questions Remain

New South Wales police want to know how and why Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak vanished in the first place
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2021 9:30 AM CDT
Aussie 3-Year-Old Rescued After 3 Nights in the Bush
Stock photo of Australian bush.   (Getty Images/zetter)

A 3-year-old boy missing in the Australian bush for three days has been found. The BBC reports that little Anthony "AJ" Elfalak, who was last seen at his Putty home on Friday morning playing with his brothers, was spotted on his family's property by New South Wales police helicopters on Monday, drinking water out of a muddy creek about a third of a mile from his house. Authorities and AJ's family say the boy, who has autism and is nonverbal, was soaked and scraped up from a fall, had diaper rash, and had been bitten by ants, but otherwise seemed OK.

Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed relief at AJ's rescue, thanking local police and paramedics. "I can't imagine how traumatic this experience has been for AJ and his parents," Morrison tweeted. "Glad to hear he's safe." AJ's father shared his own feelings after his son was found, calling it a "miracle," per the BBC. What helped the dad stay strong during the torturous waiting game over the weekend: "Just to see my son, he's named after me," Anthony Elfalak tells Reuters, which notes it still hasn't been said why AJ wandered away from his home. In fact, what happened to AJ has local law enforcement puzzled.

Police are scratching their heads over how, after three days and nights in the harsh environment, AJ was barely injured, and why earlier thermal imaging scans of the property didn't locate him, reports 7News. AJ's family and friends had feared an abduction—police even seized a white pickup truck on Sunday, after the family said they'd spotted one like it on their property—but there were other strange happenings that didn't add up, including the fact that four hours of CCTV footage taken around the time AJ went missing had vanished. Tracy Chapman, the superintendent of the New South Wales police force, says an investigation is ongoing. (More Australia stories.)

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