William Callaghan is safe and happy at home after what has been an agonising week for his family, who spent days searching for the the 14-year-old, who has non-verbal autism, in the wilderness in Victoria’s Mount Disappointment.
The teenager went missing on Monday after walking off from his family during an afternoon hike. He spent 47 hours alone in the wilderness in freezing temperatures, while a massive search including hundreds of volunteers and service members was undertaken in the area.
As if some kind of miracle, he was found by a volunteer on Wednesday afternoon and is settling back at home with his mum, step-dad and brother, who also has autism. But, the memories of those frightening few days remain for Will’s family, who on Friday spoke out about the fear experienced while the search was underway.
Will’s step-dad Nathan Ezard said although his step-son is happy and doing well, in those darkest moments, when the teen was lost in the wilderness, he himself had some worrying thoughts.
“At my darkest moment, I feared that I’d never see him agin,” he told A Current Affair. “I actually left the campground, disappeared into the bush myself for a couple of minutes. And I let out some really, really agonising primal screams and I didn’t want to have that in front of the media or the people up there or, because you know the people up there needed to see us strong and believing that we’d find him.”
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) June 12, 2020
It was a joyous moment when Nathan was reunited with his step-son and now after a couple of days back at home, the step-father said worry is far from the mind of the teenager. Instead of fretting about the past, or what’s to come in the future, Nathan said Will just lives in the moment.
“So, there’s no worrying about what happened over the last few days,” he told A Current Affair. “He’s pretty much the perfect example of that notion of just living every day as it comes, every moment as it comes.
Nathan added: “Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t assume that because someone is a little bit different, or has an intellectual disability or physical disability, that they are less than you. Will is better, he’s probably the best person I’ve ever met. I imagine the best person I ever will meet. He’s just beautiful.”
Meanwhile, speaking to the Today show on Thursday after Will’s first night back at home, Nathan revealed the first thing his step-son did upon his return.
“He was straight through the gate and the first thing he did was sit down on his swing set [and] have a big long swing,” he said. “Penny had to literally drag him inside out of the cold.”
Nathan added: “Will’s come out of this experience with a few cuts and bruises on the bottom of his feet. Surprisingly few for a kid who wandered around for two days in the freezing cold.”