Desperate search for four-year-old boy who wandered away from his home with the neighbour’s dog wearing gumboots more than 16 hours ago
- Axel wandered off from his home and was reported missing at 3pm on Tuesday
- Search crews with up to 100 volunteers scoured the area through the night
- Axel had been with a white dog at the time which returned to its owner alone
- Police confirmed the little boy was found safe and well on Wednesday morning
A desperate search was launched to find a four-year-old New Zealand boy who had been missing for close to 24 hours.
Up to 100 volunteers scoured the area when little Axel was reported missing at 3pm on Tuesday after disappearing from his home near Tolaga Bay on the country’s north-east coast.
A massive search effort including police, drones, a rescue helicopter and a local rugby team worked tirelessly to find the lost little boy.
The search was called off at 11pm on Tuesday night before resuming on Wednesday morning.
Four-year-old boy Axel was reported missing from his home near Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, at 3pm on Tuesday. Up to 100 volunteers scoured the area trying to find the little boy
Axel wandered off with a neighbour’s dog he was playing with, which returned to its owner alone an hour after the boy was reported missing.
The dog’s owner said it took hours of him calling for the pet to return home – when he usually comes back straight away.
‘There’s no way he couldn’t hear me calling him. The only reason he wouldn’t have come straight back is if something was wrong. And to come back alone really worries me,’ the owner wrote on Facebook.
Once the dog returned home the owner and other volunteers took the animal back outside in the hope it would lead them to where Axel was, but to no avail.
Residents in the area banded together to leave their lights on overnight and placed teddies and blankets outside their front doors to let Axel know he was safe.
Then in a sudden turn of events, police confirmed at 10.45am on Wednesday the little boy had been found safe and well – 19km from his home.
In a heartwarming photo Axel is seen smiling in his mother’s arms as rescue volunteers cheer around them after an anxious 20-hour search.
Police confirmed the boy had been found on Wednesday morning with a heartwarming photo showing Axel in his mother’s arms
Axel was wearing just a shirt and his blue gum boots that he had been in at the time he disappeared.
A close family friend, Ange Walsh, told NewsHub she was on the phone with Axel’s mother when he was found.
‘She said, “he’s just arrived, I’ve got to go”, and I was like, “no, just hang on the phone” – and all I could hear was this really happy little boy, talking about his big adventure,’ Ms Walsh said.
‘Mum and dad are in tears, happy – relieved.’
Another friend said Axel returned home without any serious injuries and despite the ordeal he was in good spirits.
‘He’s okay, he has a few scratches – but he was so happy to see his mum… I spoke to her on the phone about five minutes ago – she’s great,’ family friend Shinae Twist said.
It was probably the worst 24 hours of her life, but she’s much better now her baby is home.’
Police and Axel’s family feared the worst for the little boy with temperatures in the area dropping to as low as 4C overnight.