Nuggets, four large boxes of chips and William sleeps soundly

A teenage boy who spent two nights lost in the Victorian bush in near-freezing conditions has slept soundly in a Melbourne hospital bed after eating four large boxes of chips and some chicken nuggets for his first hot meal in days.

Jun 11, 2020, updated Jun 11, 2020
William Callaghan (left)was found alive after two cold nights in Victoria's bush. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING

William Callaghan (left)was found alive after two cold nights in Victoria's bush. (AAP Image/James Ross) NO ARCHIVING

William Callaghan remains in the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) after being found yesterday at Mount Disappointment, north of Melbourne.

He had been missing since Monday afternoon.

Speaking outside the hospital this morning, the boy’s mother Penny Callaghan said her son may need to remain in hospital for some time to have an insect removed from his ear and to have a cast fitted for a suspected broken foot.

“I don’t know how he’ll cope with that,” she said.

“These are just some of the issues that happen with kids on the spectrum. A little medical procedure is a big event.”

William, who is 14, has autism and is non-verbal.

Ms Callaghan said an ear, nose and throat specialist would attempt to remove the insect from Will’s ear today.

“There are difficulties with that because he’s not going to be compliant,” Ms Callaghan said.

“He doesn’t understand what’s going on, why people are trying to touch him and poke him and prod him.”

Ms Callaghan said her son had “demonstrated what an amazing person he is” to have survived alone in the bush for two nights.

“What probably surprised me about him is that he stayed in the area,” she said.

“He didn’t really go too far, he was clearly waiting to be rescued.”

She said she wanted to give her son “a million hugs” but knew he wouldn’t like that.

“I managed to steal a kiss or two. He likes deep pressure so he’s had a lot of body squeezes,” Ms Callaghan said.

She said William slept well during his first night in hospital, after a large meal of chicken nuggets and chips.

“This is a massive ordeal for him, but to him it was probably just an adventure as well,” she said.

“He’s just happy, I think, that I’m there. He slept pretty well last night. A lot better than I did.”

William was separated from his father on the south side of the summit of Mount Disappointment about 2:20pm on Monday, prompting a three-day search of the area. He was found by volunteer Ben Gibbs around 11:55am yesterday, about 1.5km from the command post and about 10 minutes off the track in bushland.

Mr Gibbs said William didn’t have anything on his feet so he put some socks, a jacket and a hat on the boy and gave him some chocolate.

“He was happy to get the chocolate,” Mr Gibbs said.

He had heard William liked Thomas the Tank Engine so he talked to him about some of the characters including Diesel and Bertie.

“I just took my time.”

Eventually the pair made their way back towards the search base camp, with Mr Gibbs carrying William some of the way.

William was then taken to the hospital for treatment, including for abrasions on his feet and face.

RCH emergency medicine deputy director Joanne Grindlay said yesterday William had managed to avoid hypothermia.

“Probably because he’s an active young man,” Dr Grindlay said.

“Children are often a lot more resilient than us adults.”

Ms Callaghan said she could not wait to meet the man who found her son.

“He clearly did all the right stuff. What an amazing guy,” she said

“From what I can tell he gave him the clothes off his back including his socks and his shoes.”


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