Beautiful moment mother is reunited with her son, 4, after he vanished for 21 hours

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Beautiful moment mum is reunited with her son, 4, after he wandered off with his neighbour’s dog and got lost in near-freezing woods for 21 hours wearing a nappy and blue gumboots

  • Four-year-old Axel had emotional reunion with his parents after being missing
  • He wandered off from his home in Tolaga Bay in New Zealand’s north east
  • Search crews with up to 100 volunteers scoured the area through the night
  • Axel had been with a white dog at the time which returned to its owner alone
  • Police confirmed the little boy was found safe and well on Wednesday morning 

A four-year-old New Zealand boy who was missing for 21 hours has had an emotional reunion with his parents. 

One of the 100 volunteers searching for Axel found him 4km from his home at Tolaga Bay on the country’s north-east coast on Wednesday morning. 

A massive search team including police, drones, a rescue helicopter and a local rugby team worked tirelessly to find the little boy, who got lost after wandering off with a neighbour’s dog. 

A heartwarming video has shown the moment the crying little boy is taken into his emotional parents arms (pictured)

A heartwarming video has shown the moment the crying little boy is taken into his emotional parents arms (pictured)

A heartwarming video captured the moment the crying little boy was taken into his emotional parents’ arms.  

The volunteer searcher who found Axel told TVNZ he was crying and calling out for his mother.

‘Very emotional, very disorientated and calling out to his mum,’ the searcher said.

‘I’m just a stranger to him but I just said to him that his mum was looking for him.

‘He had tears to his eyes, brought tears to my eyes, but all he wanted was his mum and he was a pretty strong young fella.’

Axel was wearing just a shirt and his blue gum boots that he had been in at the time he disappeared

Axel was wearing just a shirt and his blue gum boots that he had been in at the time he disappeared 

The father-of-three said it upset him when the preschooler told him he slept in the dark but was not scared.

‘Having children of my own, [there isn’t] a parent that doesn’t want to go through that sort of nightmare,’ he said. 

The dog Axel was playing with returned alone an hour after the boy was reported missing, which the owner said was unusual for the pet.   

‘There’s no way he couldn’t hear me calling him. The only reason he wouldn’t have come straight back is if something was wrong. And to come back alone really worries me,’ the owner wrote on Facebook.

Police confirmed the boy had been found on Wednesday morning with a heartwarming photo showing Axel with his parents

Police confirmed the boy had been found on Wednesday morning with a heartwarming photo showing Axel with his parents 

Residents in the area banded together to leave their lights on overnight and placed teddies and blankets outside their front doors to let Axel know he was safe.  

Axel was wearing just a shirt, nappy and his blue gum boots that he had been in at the time he disappeared.

A close family friend, Ange Walsh, told NewsHub she was on the phone with Axel’s mother when he was found.

‘She said, ‘he’s just arrived, I’ve got to go’, and I was like, ‘no, just hang on the phone’ – and all I could hear was this really happy little boy, talking about his big adventure,’ Ms Walsh said.

‘Mum and dad are in tears, happy – relieved.’

Four-year-old boy Axel was reported missing from his home near Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, at 3pm on Tuesday. Up to 100 volunteers scoured the area trying to find the little boy

Four-year-old boy Axel was reported missing from his home near Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, at 3pm on Tuesday. Up to 100 volunteers scoured the area trying to find the little boy

Another friend said Axel returned home without any serious injuries and despite the ordeal he was in good spirits.

‘He’s okay, he has a few scratches – but he was so happy to see his mum… I spoke to her on the phone about five minutes ago – she’s great,’ family friend Shinae Twist said. 

‘It was probably the worst 24 hours of her life, but she’s much better now her baby is home.’

Police and Axel’s family feared the worst for the little boy with temperatures in the area dropping to as low as 4C overnight.

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