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Rescuers scour woods for days in search of 3-year-old autistic boy then spot figure in creek
AJ, who is 3-years-old and nonverbal, went missing when he escaped his home one night.
Colby Maxwell
09.17.21

Some things are just shocking to even read about. For one family, finding out their autistic son had escaped the house and was lost in the Australian woods was one of those shocking moments.

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Anthony “AJ” Elfalak is a 3-year-old boy with autism who escaped his house.

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AJ is non-verbal and when his family found out he had gone missing, they were terrified of what had happened to him. As soon as they found he had gone missing, they called the police and worked to get him home.

Hour after hour went by as police and neighbors searched for AJ outside his family’s rural property.

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His family owned land outside the village of Putty, north of Sydney. There was a lot of land to cover and learning where he was was going to be a real challenge. After hours went by, there wasn’t a single sign of him.

Police helicopters, hundreds of people, and more searched night and day for AJ.

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The temperatures during the day could be incredibly hot, it’s Australia after all. With a clear clock ticking in everyone’s heads, finding the boy became more and more urgent as he likely became dehydrated.

Finally, a police helicopter spotted him – only 500 yards from his home!

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Incredibly, a police team had seen the boy through the trees. AJ was in the woods only 500 yards from his house, sitting in a stream! Once they got on the ground, people rushed to help while others celebrated. From the initial conditions, AJ seemed to be ok but they needed a proper medical check to be sure.

Anthony, AJ’s father, was able to update everyone on what happened after the rescue.

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Besides being bitten by ants and having bad diaper rash, AJ was ok.

“It’s a miracle,” the father told reporters

They had found AJ in an area that had already been searched and police assumed he had spent his entire time in the woods. One of the most important elements of his safety was his ability to find water. They had found him in a stream, cupping water to his mouth to stay hydrated. It likely saved his life.

When the officer who found him stumbled upon the boy, AJ’s face told it all.

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The officer “stated that he [AJ] turned towards him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget,” Merrick said.

The paramedics described the boy as a survivor, astonished at how well he had done alone in the woods.

“Little AJ’s condition was quite remarkable,” Pyke said. “He was very, very thankful. I could see that in his eyes.”

He took a LONG nap in the ambulance, woke up, and asked for food!

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Like any little boy, he wanted to eat as soon as he woke up.

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

The incredible survival story is a real miracle. His parents are surely thankful to have him home, safe and sound. No more “surprise” trips to the woods for AJ any time soon!

Check out the video below!

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By Colby Maxwell
hi@sbly.com
Colby Maxwell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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