/ 07 September 2021

AJ is A-OK

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THE SQUIZ
Three-year-old AJ Elfalak was found yesterday, 3 days after he went missing from his family’s rural property in the NSW Hunter region. He is autistic and non-verbal, and there were significant fears for his safety. But mid-yesterday, AJ was spotted drinking water from a creek less than 500 metres away from home – the video footage from the police chopper is quite something. AJ’s dad Anthony said the boy had suffered ant bites, nappy rash and scrapes from falling over, but the fact he is alive is a “miracle”.

BACK IT UP A BIT…
AJ disappeared around noon on Friday – he had been playing with his brothers at home near Putty, southwest of AJ disappeared around noon on Friday – he had been playing with his brothers at home near Putty, southwest of Singleton. Since then, almost 400 police, emergency services and volunteers had been searching for AJ. His family said it was out of character for him to wander off and feared he had been kidnapped after a “suspicious” white ute was spotted by family members nearby when he went missing. That led police to seize a vehicle on Sunday as part of their investigation. But yesterday, Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman said AJ’s discovery in a gully was a “good news story”. He was retrieved and taken to his overwhelmed mum Kelly. And after devouring pizza and a banana, it was off to Maitland Hospital to be checked over. He is expected to return home today.

SO, CASE CLOSED?
Not quite. NSW Police will now try to piece together what happened since Friday. Aside from looking at a white ute, Superintendent Chapman said CCTV footage from a local service station was seized and another property was searched after reports of sounds of a child crying and screaming. They are also looking into missing CCTV footage from the family’s home around the time that AJ disappeared. Those things are “part of our inquiries still,” she said. As for AJ’s family, they celebrated his return yesterday and thanked the police, volunteers and friends for their support. “Our family is together again. For that, we are grateful to everyone who has assisted in any way over the last 3 days,” a spokesman said.

Image source: AAP

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