Incredible moment 3-year-old boy with autism is found alive in Australian woods days after going missing

A massive search for an Australian boy who has autism and is non-verbal ended in jubilation Monday after cops found the 3-year-old sitting in a creek bed and drinking water from his hands.

The incredible moment was captured on video by a police helicopter that was flying over a wooded area near his family’s rural property in Putty, north of Sydney. The video shows Anthony “AJ” Elfalak wearing diapers and a sweatshirt as he repeatedly cupped water in his hands to drink and wash his face.

The discovery ended a three-day search that drew global headlines and involved hundreds of emergency workers and volunteers, including police, firefighters, divers, helicopter teams and K-9 units.

The boy appeared to be in good condition but was taken to a hospital for observation, authorities said. His father, Anthony Elfalak, said AJ only had some abrasions and diaper rash and had been bitten by ants.

“It’s a miracle,” Elfalak told reporters after he and his wife were reunited with their son.

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

The child was reported missing shortly after noon Friday after disappearing from his home, according to police. Search teams did comb through the area surrounding his home, including the creek where he was eventually found, but there had been no signs of AJ.

Police believe the boy spent the entire time in the woods and was able to survive partly because he found water. He also faced cold weather, with overnight temperatures dropping to as low as 43 degrees over the weekend.

When an emergency worker approached him around 11:30 a.m. Monday, AJ “turned towards with a massive smile” and seemed quite thankful, said Simon Merrick, chief inspector of the State Emergency Service.

With News Wire Services