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Three-Year-Old AJ Recovering Well After Being Lost For Days As NSW Police Continue Investigation

September 7, 2021

A three-year-old boy who spent three days lost in rugged bushland has been released from hospital as police try to work out how he ended up half a kilometre from his rural New South Wales home.

Anthony “AJ” Elfalak was reunited with his overjoyed family on Monday after being spotted by a rescue helicopter following a three-day search.

Hunter Region commander Simon Merrick said an State Emergency Service volunteer walked up to AJ and put his hand on his shoulder.

“[AJ] turned to him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget,” Merrick said. “It was an emotional moment.”

AJ, who has autism and is nonverbal, went missing from his family’s property at Putty about 11.45am on Friday.

He was found sitting in a puddle drinking water from a creek after surviving three nights alone in the bush in temperatures which dipped as low as 3C.

Special operations team paramedic Gerry Pyke said AJ’s condition was “remarkable”.

“He is a little survivor,” Pyke said. “He had some lacerations on his lower legs … he did have a bit of nappy rash but he hadn’t had a nappy change for a few days so we can’t hold that against him.”

Pyke said once AJ woke up he was starving and ate three slices of pizza and a banana.

He was released from hospital overnight.

His father Anthony Elfalak said AJ had been bitten by ants and had fallen over but he was just grateful his son was alive.

“He’s just clinging to Mum,” Elfalak told TV crews. “As soon as he heard his mum, he opened his eyes and looked at her and fell asleep.”

The Elfalak family issued a statement late on Monday afternoon asking for space and expressing gratitude for everyone who assisted in the search for AJ.

“AJ is fine,” the statement read. “Hold your kids close. Please give our family the privacy to appreciate what we have.”

Over the weekend more than 130 people were involved in the search of the property and volunteers helped police on foot and on dirt bikes.

NSW Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman said investigations were ongoing into how AJ made his way so far from home.

“From a policing perspective we will still be continuing our inquiry to understand what has occurred over the past three days,” she said. “I know everyone has lots of questions.”

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