A non-verbal teen with autism who went missing on the NSW Central Coast has been found safe and well.
Leif Courtney, 13, was found on a houseboat about 50 metres offshore from the Mooney Mooney public wharf, police say.
The teen had last been seen at his Mooney Mooney home on Wednesday evening, and his absence sparked an urgent search-and-rescue mission.
A member of the public noticed the boy around 4.40pm on Thursday and approached the boat.
He brought Leif back to shore and then called the police, who say Leif is now safe and well with no visible signs of injury. Paramedics are currently assisting him.
Police began searching the Mooney Mooney, Kangaroo Point and Brooklyn areas for the boy on Thursday morning. The search effort also expanded into the air.
“Understandably, the family are beside themselves,” NSW Police spokeswoman Kylie Phillips told reporters on Thursday.
Leif’s father Allen Courtney had told The Daily Telegraph that anyone who sees his son should not be afraid to approach him.
“He’s not afraid of crowds. Please approach him if he’s seen and just do your best,” he said.
Mr Courtney said Leif is non-verbal but often noisy, making “squealing noises or (repeating) things he’s heard”.
“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 (you),” Mr Courtney said.
Police thanked the public for their assistance.