Three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak was playing with his brother on their 650 acre property off Yengo Drive in Putty, when he disappeared yesterday just before midday.
Over 100 volunteers on foot, bikes, horseback and in cars joined the search today with choppers scanning the thick bushland overhead for any signs of the young boy, who has non-verbal autism.
AJ’s family moved to the property just three months ago and were emotional today, saying it was out of character for him to wander off.
“I just want to find my son, I need to find AJ,” the missing boy’s mother Kelly Elfalak told 9News.
“I’ve searched the property, so many times I’ve searched and I still cannot find him.
“I’m his universe, he holds my hand all day and all night, we are together all the time – something’s not right.”
The family said they spotted a suspicious older model Toyota Hilux on the private road surrounding the property around the same time he went missing.
“I think he’s been taken. He’s been taken. If he was around here I would have found him by now,” Ms Elfalak said.
While an amber alert has not yet been issued by police, all lines of enquiry are being followed as wet weather sets in across the region tonight.
“Really every minute is important, our priority is to just find AJ as quickly as we can,” NSW Police superintendent Tracy Chapman said.
“Obviously, the terrain is very difficult. We’re in a rural setting, there are various levels of elevation.
“We have been searching some of the dams and waterways.”
Superintendent Chapman said dams in the area had been emptied and police divers deployed, but have so far returned no trace.
There are grave concerns for the boy due to his developmental condition.
The search will continue overnight with police bringing in additional resources for patrols across the property and neighbouring farms with Polair using thermal imaging cameras from up above.
The rural town of Putty is located about two hours north-west of Sydney and is surrounded by bushland.
Police are using trail bikes, police helicopters and divers, and the Dog Unit to urgently try and track down the boy.
Emergency crews are scouring the remote area with the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service.
A command post has been set up down the road from the property where about 30 cars of concerned friends and family have gathered.
NSW Police issued a statement insisting assistance from the public was currently not required, reminding people of the COVID-19 restrictions in place.
“There are sufficient emergency services on scene and public assistance is not required at this time,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“This area is deemed regional NSW and travel restrictions under the Public Health Order apply.”
The boy is described as Mediterranean/Middle Eastern in appearance and has short dark hair. He is believed to be wearing a grey jumper and pants, and sneakers.