A heroic bushwalker who found an autistic teenager who had been missing in dense bushland for three days told how he saved the boy.
The discovery of the miracle came when Ben Gibbs deviated only 20 minutes from the trail and made his way through the vegetation before “just seeing William Callaghan standing there”.
The 15-year-old received a piece of chocolate and some warm socks from his rescuer before Ben called for help.
In an effort to keep the teen calm and relaxed while the pair waited for the rescue team together, Ben spoke to William about Bertie and Diesel from Thomas the Tank Engine.
A rescue helicopter orbited above him, but the loud noise made William cover his ears.
Ben called and asked to stop the helicopter while a truck with the boys’ mother was driving towards them.
Ben spoke to reporters on the spot in Victoria, Australia, and Ben was asked if William was happy to see him.
He replied, “No, he was just happy with the chocolate.”
Ben added that he came up the mountain as a child, so he knew the way.
More than 450 people, mostly made up of volunteers, had searched the area around the mountaintop since the teen disappeared at around 2:20 pm Monday.
Ben said, “He looked pretty healthy, he didn’t shudder so much, he wasn’t wearing socks, so I put on some socks and a jacket and gave him some chocolate.
“I was wearing it, it was extremely light, and in the end I heard some other guys to warn him.”
Mom Penny Callaghan and stepfather Nathan Ezard were there to greet him.
Surprised that her son was found alive after such a long time, Ms. Callaghan said he had used sign language to indicate that he was afraid.
“I can’t imagine what he felt and experienced,” she said, adding that he had asked for fast food as his first meal in days.
Ms. Callaghan further thanked bushwalker Ben and said she now plans to take William on vacation.
She said to rescue workers, “Thank you all, you are all great.”
The rescuers were warned not to clap while encouraging the teenager to get into the rescue vehicle because he is afraid of loud noises.
Those in the base camp of the mountain, where the rescue was stationed, were pictured hugging each other and cheering as the news streamed through.
Covered in a puffer jacket and hoodie, William was taken to camp where he was checked by a paramedic.
He was gone when he walked with his family.
Victoria Police previously tweeted: “Great news! The missing boy Will Callaghan was found by a volunteer at Mount Disappointment.
“After missing for two days in bushland, Will will soon be reunited with his family.
“We want to thank the community for their support.”