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Incredible kiss as autistic 13-year-old reunites with mum after being found on a houseboat

The mother of the autistic teenage boy who was found on a houseboat after going missing on Thursday afternoon said he was relieved to back with family.  

Leonie Morris thanked the local community for their support, while Leif’s carer Lisa said if he had sunk into the mud he wouldn’t have survived. 

Search volunteers reportedly hugged one another as someone shouted the autistic teenager had been found at around 4.40pm on Thursday.      

Mother (pictured) of autistic teenage boy Leif Courtney (pictured), who was found on a houseboat after going missing on Thursday afternoon, said he was relieved to back with family

Leonie Morris (pictured left) thanked the local community for their support in finding her son

Ms Morris (pictured left) said Leif seemed relieved to be back with his family

Ms Morris (pictured left) said Leif seemed relieved to be back with his family 

Leif's carer Lisa (pictured right) said she was glad Leif did not sink into the mud, because she said he wouldn't have survived it

Leif’s carer Lisa (pictured right) said she was glad Leif did not sink into the mud, because she said he wouldn’t have survived it

‘People have not slept all night, and they’ve walked the entire night and day. People coordinating, people making food, and people praying. Just thank you to everybody,’ Ms Morris said. 

She told Channel Ten Leif seemed relieved to be back with his family. 

‘I think [he is] a little bit spun out but relieved to be back. I hear he was crying on the boat so I think he’s relieved,’ said Ms Morris.

Leif’s carer Lisa said she was relieved he didn’t sink into the mud.  

‘The mud here sucks you in, if he was in that mud, I don’t think he would have survived that,’ she said.

‘And he loves boats, being a Mooney guy.’

‘You really wanted to experience the boating world and you did,’ Lisa said to Leif.

Lisa said Leif had slid down a palm tree truck and made it to the ground from the second storey of his home. 

Brett Hogbin (pictured) was part of the search party and found the teenager after someone else spotted him on a houseboat in Mooney Mooney, New South Wales

Brett Hogbin (pictured) was part of the search party and found the teenager after someone else spotted him on a houseboat in Mooney Mooney, New South Wales 

The missing teen was found on a houseboat on the Mooney Mooney river, 50 metres offshore near a public wharf. 

Search volunteers reportedly hugged one another as someone shouted the autistic teenager had been found at around 4.40pm on Thursday.     

A member of the public reportedly contacted the police after seeing the boy, and police said he has been reunited with his family. 

Brett Hogbin helped find the teenager with someone else, and said he was ‘really happy’ when he saw the searchers.  

‘He was happy to see us, and he dived straight onto the boat as soon as he seen us,’ Brett Hogbin told Channel 9. 

The large-scale search resumed for missing teen Leif Courtney on Thursday morning as SES volunteers (pictured) joined the desperate search effort

The large-scale search resumed for missing teen Leif Courtney on Thursday morning as SES volunteers (pictured) joined the desperate search effort

Around 150 volunteers took part in the large-scale search in dense bushland for the missing teen on Thursday

Around 150 volunteers took part in the large-scale search in dense bushland for the missing teen on Thursday

The news comes after Leif’s father Allen penned a heartbreaking letter, which asked searchers to try and ‘tempt’ his son with apple and ‘look up high’ because he likes to climb. 

‘He is mostly non-verbal, but often makes squealing noises or repeats things he’s heard. If he’s about, he’s often noisy, so listen out,’ the letter said. 

‘Don’t be worried about approaching him … Apples are one of his favourite foods, so that might tempt him. He also loves climbing, so look up high.’

‘He’s not normally worried about a crowd or noise, so don’t let that bother you,’ Mr Courtney said. 

The search for Leif was suspended late Wednesday and resumed on Thursday morning

The search for Leif was suspended late Wednesday and resumed on Thursday morning 

His frantic family raised the alarm shortly after he was last seen at around 7.30pm on Wednesday.

They spent the night looking for ‘Leify’ with the help of police, local residents, teachers and school friends. 

He was only wearing a grey singlet, shorts and sneakers with fluorescent green laces when he vanished from his home, which backs onto dense bushland near the Pacific Highway.

The search was suspended late Wednesday night and resumed on Thursday morning as NSW Rural Fire Service and SES volunteers joined the frantic search operation. 

Train services were suspended between Gosford and Cowan in both directions for the search.

Leif’s disappearance rocked the tight-knit community which rallied behind the teen’s distraught family, who were reported to be ‘beside themselves’.  

‘Everyone is concerned about this child. There were people out all night. I did hear people were out 20 minutes after he went missing,’ Mooney Mooney resident Steve Pearson told the Daily Telegraph.

‘I did a search through the mangroves because I have a boat out the back.’ 

‘I don’t think it’s a good thing to be out in this weather all night in your pyjamas.’

Locals were told Leif likes likes apples and chickens, his favourite song is the Owl City hit Fireflies.    

‘His mum said to say to him ‘It’s sleepy time head on your pillow clean your teeth’,’ a local community group said.    

DAD’S DESPERATE PLEA 

 Hi all,

Thank you for all your efforts so far.

A few quick notes on Leif.

He is mostly non-verbal, but often makes squealing noises or repeats things he’s heard. If he’s about, he’s often noisy, so listen out.

He responds to his name – Leif or Leify (pronounced Layf or Layfie, but he’s also used to Leaf or Leafie).

He’s not normally worried about a crowd or noise, so don’t let that bother you. Don’t be worried about approaching him. You may need to grab an arm or hand to have him follow. Apples are one of his favourite foods, so that might tempt him. He also loves climbing, so look up high.

He’s in grey jammies (singlet top and shorts) and grey joggers. Also a nappy. He might have taken both nappy and shorts off.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your help right now.

Allen (dad)

Police held grave concerns for his welfare due to his age and his non-verbal autism. Pictured: A worried member of the community involved in the search

Police held grave concerns for his welfare due to his age and his non-verbal autism. Pictured: A worried member of the community involved in the search

Trail biker riders (pictured) and the NSW Police Dog Squad scoured dense bushland in Mooney Mooney

Trail biker riders (pictured) and the NSW Police Dog Squad scoured dense bushland in Mooney Mooney

Leif was missing from Wednesday evening until Thursday afternoon. Pictured is an SES volunteer involved in the desperate search effort

Leif was missing from Wednesday evening until Thursday afternoon. Pictured is an SES volunteer involved in the desperate search effort

Local residents (pictured right with SES volunteers) joined the search for Leif, and volunteers embraced when they heard he had been found

Local residents (pictured right with SES volunteers) joined the search for Leif, and volunteers embraced when they heard he had been found 

Police launched an aerial search (pictured) for autistic teen Leif Courtney after he vanished from his home on Wednesday night

Police launched an aerial search (pictured) for autistic teen Leif Courtney after he vanished from his home on Wednesday night

The community joined the frantic search for autistic teen Leif Courtney. Pictured are some of the 150 volunteers involved

The community joined the frantic search for autistic teen Leif Courtney. Pictured are some of the 150 volunteers involved

A heavy contingent of NSW Police officers (pictured) were part of the search operation

A heavy contingent of NSW Police officers (pictured) were part of the search operation



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