A 14-year-old boy has been found alive and well after spending two nights in freezing temperatures at Mount Disappointment, north of Melbourne.
Rescue crews found William Callaghan, who has non-verbal autism, on the third day of an intense search.
The 14-year-old boy was walking to the summit of the hiking spot when he raced ahead of his family and became separated from them around 2.20pm Monday.
More than 200 volunteers joined about 150 police and emergency services were looking for William non-stop while temperatures drop below zero.
Having disappeared wearing only blue trackpants and a hoodie, there were concerns for his wellbeing as overnight temperatures dropped to near freezing.
“We’re optimistic at this stage that he will be safe and we’ll find him safe and well today,” Acting Inspector Christine Lalor said earlier on Wednesday.
“William doesn’t verbalise so if anyone finds him, the best way to communicate with him is to be patient and calm.”
She encouraged locals to play the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song, and leave water and food such as Vegemite and feta cheese on their verandahs, in the hopes William will seek them out.
“He has an intellectual disability and he’s very smart in his own way,” his mother, Penny Callaghan, said before he was found.
“I’m feeling positive because he’s quite resilient. He is very skinny. You know, he doesn’t have much padding on him, but he eats all the time, he’s always on the move. He’s very active, so he’s quite fit.
The team at Great Walks are so pleased with this outcome and wed wish William a quick recovery!