A blurry image taken from a police helicopter has given Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak’s family all the proof they need that he was being cared for by an angel while lost in the bush.
With her three-year-old nuzzling into her neck and holding onto her tightly, Kelly Elfalak revealed she had no doubt that the ‘power of prayer’ kept AJ safe.
Little AJ was found on September 6 after three days in inhospitable terrain behind his family home in Putty, 150km northwest of Sydney, with nothing more than some scratches, ant bites and nappy rash.
His devout Coptic Orthodox Christian family believe that an angel can be seen hidden in the rocks to his left when the NSW Police helicopter zeroed in on him.
‘If you saw the picture of AJ in the creek, you can see the angel next to him,’ Ms Elfalak said.
A blurry image taken from a police helicopter has given Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak’s family all the proof they need that he was being cared for by an angel while lost in the bush
With her three-year-old nuzzling into her neck and holding onto her tightly, Kelly Elfalak revealed she had no doubt that the ‘power of prayer’ kept AJ safe
The photo has been circulating on social media and within paranormal activity groups.
But Ms Elfalak clarified that she and her family are certain the guardian angel stayed with little AJ to keep him alive while rescuers scoured the property for any sign of life.
She says it is a ‘miracle’ that he was found safe and well, a reflection of the strength of prayer and their faith.
The family, along with friends and thousands of supporters from afar, prayed for his safe return constantly while he was missing.
‘AJ is doing really well,’ Ms Elfalak revealed. ‘He is healthy, happy, he only has a few cuts but nothing serious.’
Little AJ appeared in a Zoom prayer with his mother and Leila Abdallah, the mother of three children who were killed by a drunk driver in 2020
This aerial image shows the distance between AJ’s home and the area where he was found – complete with the dense bushland and dangerously steep terrain in between
Mr Cassar queried whether AJ had in fact travelled further from this family home and somehow looped back to the dam where he was found, which is just 500m from his family home and was explored extensively in the days he was missing
A police source told Daily Mail Australia in the days after his rescue that his autism likely helped to keep him alive as he didn’t process the imminent threat to his life while in the wilderness.
‘The reality is he didn’t know he was lost… so he wasn’t scared, he didn’t panic,’ an investigator said.
‘If he was tired, he slept… he had access to water, which is a big thing for survival in the bush.’
But Ms Elfalak said AJ certainly knew he was lost.
‘He was distraught, he knew something was wrong,’ she said. ‘He was really scared, clinging onto me really tightly.’
The moment they were reunited, Ms Elfalak said she got a sense that AJ finally felt as though he could relax.
Children were overjoyed after AJ was found, playing amongst each other and thanking the volunteers
Friends and family who had gathered at the Putty home celebrated for two days straight after his rescue, but his father says it will be dwarfed by the party when Covid restrictions ease in the coming months
‘He looked at me and with his eyes I could see he thought ”oh my God, my mum’s here”, and then fell asleep,’ she said.
Friends and family who had gathered at the Putty home celebrated for two days straight after his rescue, but his father says it will be dwarfed by the party when Covid restrictions ease in the coming months.
‘When Covid is over we’re going to have the biggest party for AJ… Everyone’s invited,’ he said.
The family were joined on a Zoom prayer session by Leila Abdallah – the mother of three children who were tragically killed when a drunk driver ran them over on their way to buy ice cream in 2020.
‘Alex and Michael want to come to your farm and play with AJ every single day,’ Ms Abdallah told them, referring to her two sons.
AJ Elfalak (pictured) went missing on September 3 and was found three days later, covered in cuts and bruises
‘I really want to come but because of Covid, you don’t know what to do.’
Mr and Ms Elfalak assured Ms Abdallah she and her family were welcome to the farm once lockdown had ended.
The two families have never met, but feel drawn to one another after bonding over their shared trauma.
Ms Abdallah said she felt Ms Elfalak’s emotions when in footage taken the moment she realised AJ was alive.
‘It reminded me of the night at the hospital when I saw Alex and Michael… of hugging my children, something you easily take for granted.’
Professional tracker brought in to help determine how little AJ wound up in the bush
Pictured: Bush tracker Jake Cassar
AJ Elfalak’s family is relying on the opinion of a professional bush tracker to help them understand how the toddler spent three nights alone in the unforgiving terrain behind their home.
Jake Cassar has been at the family home in Putty, 150km northwest of Sydney in the Upper Hunter Valley, since Saturday, volunteering his expertise to help track AJ.
He told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday he couldn’t rule out that the three-year-old was abducted, and said his job was to consider all possible scenarios.
‘I’m here to keep an open mind,’ he said.
‘The way I see it, if you’ve got two feet and a heartbeat anything is possible. Doesn’t matter if you’re a 97-year-old woman or a three-year-old boy.’
Mr Cassar queried whether AJ had in fact travelled further from the home and somehow looped back to where he was found, which is just 500m from his family home and was explored extensively in the days he was missing.
The professional tracker remained close to the family since arriving and was spotted in khaki clothing on Tuesday to head into the ditch where AJ was spotted.
He said he planned to head down with his search party and explore the area to find any potential paths that AJ might have taken.
Mr Cassar told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday he couldn’t rule out that the three-year-old was abducted, and said his job was to consider all possible scenarios. ‘I’m here to keep an open mind,’ he said. Mr Cassar (right) is pictured with AJ’s mother Kelly
The entrance into the creek is so steep even most adults would struggle to clamber down.
Photographs taken by Daily Mail Australia at the base illustrate just how rocky and unstable the terrain is.
AJ was found sitting in a shallow, muddy creek at the base of what appeared to be a barely visible path, but the question remains as to how he made it down such a steep track safely.
Mr Cassar explained it was very possible that, even with hundreds of volunteers, little AJ avoided detection while in the bush.
He said search parties tended to stay in straight lines and follow a near perfect trajectory from point A to point B, whereas somebody who is lost intuitively does the opposite.
‘When we’re lost, we almost always walk at a slight curve to the right or left, therefore it’s easy to travel in directions that might be missed by search parties,’ Mr Cassar said.
He hoped to provide the family some further guidance as to whether AJ likely wandered off on his own or was abducted, which is what the family initially believed.
A relative who said he lived at the home with the Elfalaks jumped in to say the family was performing ‘their own investigation’.
‘We’d like to think the police are still investigating, but they’re not here are they,’ the man said.