A young autistic boy lost on an Australian mountain for two days in freezing conditions has been rescued after being found hiding in bushland. The 14-year-old, with non-verbal autism, became separated from his family while they were hiking Mount Disappointment on Monday.
Hundreds of people including local volunteers took part in an air and ground search with “extremely concerned” police warning of “life-threateningly cold” conditions in the rugged terrain, reports Sky News.
William Callaghan’s mother, Penny Callaghan, told reporters he was “quite calm” considering what he had been through, although he was confused and was communicating that “his body feels weird”.
Bushwalker and volunteer Ben Gibbs luckily stumbled across William after walking slightly further past a search area that had earlier been tagged by rescue crews.
“I was just wandering through the bush, it was quite thick, so just breaking my way through it,” he said. “He was about 15-meters from me just standing there. He was really angelic, just standing and looking.”
William was not dressed for the weather, and did not have any food or water supplies on him when he went missing. He was treated by paramedics and later admitted to hospital for observation.
Mount Disappointment is a 2,600-ft mountain, located on the southern end of the Great Dividing Range, 5.9-miles north of Whittlesea, 37-miles north of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. It was named by explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell in 1824, and the mountain is now a popular hiking spot.
Mount Disappointment is the main water source of the Yan Yean Reservoir, which is in turn one of the major water supply reserves of Melbourne.