Stepdad of missing autistic teenager heartbroken as he recounts family turmoil

Stepdad of missing autistic teenager heartbroken as he recounts family turmoil

The stepdad of William Callaghan has explained the heartbreak and turmoil his family was feeling after his stepson William was lost in dense bushland for several days.

The autistic 14-year-old went missing on Monday afternoon during a walk with family, but was found on Wednesday.

His stepdad, Nathan Ezard and mother Penny were in “autopilot” in the moments leading up to reuniting with William.

“The time up there was excruciating,” Mr Ezard told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“For all of us who work with Will, who are part of Will's life, one of our biggest fears is that he will go missing on our watch. And it's excruciating.”

“It's any dad's worst fear to lose a child in the bush or whatever like that. To have your kids in harms way is just horrible.”

Overwhelmed, Ezard recalled when the volunteer, Ben Gibbs, who found William saying that he looked like an angel.

“And that is how Will looks,” a beaming Mr Ezard told the Today Show.

“He is a little angel, he really is sent from heaven. He’s just beautiful.”

As William is autistic and non-verbal, it added extra challenges in trying to find him, which involved hundreds of volunteers. PA systems were playing his favourite song, the Thomas the Tank Engine theme son as well as urging locals to cook bacon and onions to coax Will towards familiar smells.

Ezard explained that raising Will came with “positives and negatives”.

“While it's really difficult, it is just such a pleasure to be part of Will's life. So, yes, we struggle but it's more that we struggle for Will. It's just an honour to be part of his existence,” he said.