A toddler who has been missing in New South Wales for four days has been found alive, with family celebrating in emotional scenes on their rural property.
Police said three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak had been located a short time ago several kilometres from his home in Putty.
He has not yet been assessed by paramedics and is believed to have been spotted by a helicopter near a creek.
Family friend and godfather Alan Hashem told 9News the family was overjoyed.
“I haven’t slept for three days. I haven’t slept,” Mr Hashem said.
“I would jump all over you guys and hug and kiss you but I will keep my distance.”
It’s understood AJ has not yet been reunited with the family, but images from the home showed the boy’s loved ones celebrating and crying as they received the news.
AJ’s brother Patrick told 9News he hadn’t given up hope.
“At first I thought we wouldn’t find him but I knew the helicopters would find him because the helicopters are very high up, they can see anything,” he said.
A relative told 9News AJ appeared to be “good” and “looked fine”.
An ambulance was seen departing the location AJ was found after the toddler was initially assessed by paramedics
AJ, who is on the autism spectrum and is non-verbal, went missing last week from his family’s rural property at Putty.
Police had earlier seized a white ute and checked an abandoned property nearby, with the family fearing he might have been kidnapped.
Mr Hashem earlier told Today that AJ’s older brothers were looking after him, and that the three-year-old vanished when one had to go to the bathroom.
“We thought, if AJ’s gone somewhere, it’s not going to be far,” he said.
He said the family took four ATVs and covered thousands of square metres in a frantic search.
Mr Hashem also claimed CCTV cameras he had installed on the property had footage missing of the time that AJ disappeared.
“We installed it so high you can’t tamper with it and we had two mechanisms of storage, cloud storage and physical storage, and there’s no data in that time slot,” he said.
“We provided the user name and password to the police, we provided them the actual original memory card.”
Mr Hashem said the family were the “loveliest people” and had suffered greatly during the ordeal, as the search entered its fourth day this morning.
“You don’t understand how much pain and anguish this family’s feeling,” he said.
“The reason why I am the spokesperson is because the mother is not coping and the father, he’s holding it together by a thread.”
Mr Hashem thanked the police searchers and SES volunteers for their “absolutely phenomenal” response to the emergency.
This is the moment three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak was spotted by PolAir, following the four-day search in rural NSW.
He’s seen sitting in a creek bed, trying to drink the muddy water.