A mum whose young son spent 12 hours lost in dense bushland burst into tears revealing she feared she would never see her little boy again.
Three-year-old James ‘Jimmy’ O’Reilly wandered into bushland surrounding the AirBnb home his family were staying in during a holiday at Karli Rise in Yallingup, 256km south of Perth, on Saturday morning.
The adventurous youngster sparked a 12-hour search in freezing conditions as strong winds, heavy rain and hail battered the region.
As night fell and there was still no sign of Jimmy, his frantic parents Michelle Buckley and and Chis O’Reilly were living every parent’s worst nightmare.
Little Jimmy O’Reilly, pictured with his relieved parents Michelle Buckley and Chris O’Reilly was all smiles on Sunday, a day after he spent 12 hours lost in dense bushland
‘Once it was getting close to sunset, I was really starting to panic,’ Ms Buckley told reporters.
‘I was just losing hope, I honestly thought we were going to … find him dead.
‘I didn’t think I was going to find him alive, I thought I was going to have to bury my son.’
Hours earlier, she had been feeding her baby son Henry when Jimmy followed the family’s dogs into nearby bushland.
The family had arrived at the property a day earlier.
Jimmy’s disappearance sparked a widespread search that included a police helicopter, search dogs and mounted units, State Emergency Service volunteers and local residents desperate to help find the blond-haired blue-eyed youngster.
Michelle Buckley burst into tears as she recalled how she feared the worst about her little boy
Jimmy O’Reilly vanished around 7.30am on Saturday at Karli Rise in Yallingup, south of Perth
Jimmy was wearing Spider-Man pyjamas and thick wellington boots, which would have helped him cope with the horrendous conditions.
Locals regard the areas as one of the most dangerous precincts in the Cape’s region.
Jimmy was miraculously found by his grandfather and uncle at about 7pm on Saturday night, one kilometre away from where he vanished.
While cold, thirsty and hungry, Jimmy was relatively unscathed.
Ms Buckley fell to the floor when she learned Jimmy has been found.
‘They put him in the car and brought him back to us. We brought him inside, took off his pyjamas and wrapped him up in a blanket,’ she told the West Australian.
‘He was smiling, talking to (his baby brother) and he said ‘I went out into the bush’, and it was just the most beautiful moment.’
A frantic search for the child was launched earlier on Saturday Pictured SES teams search bushland looking for Jimmy before he was eventually found by his gradfather
Jimmy (pictured after his big adventure) spent the night in hospital under observation
Mr O’Reilly said there was joy and tears when they heard Jimmy had been found safe.
‘I could have ran on water,’ he told reporters.
‘It was the highlight of the worst day of my life.
‘The fact that he was talking and smiling. He was definitely cold and afraid and hungry.
‘It was sad seeing him like that. But he basically walked out of it without a scratch, on him, which is crazy.’
After telling his grandfather was hungry, Jimmy was given water to drink, Oreos and a Snickers chocolate bar before being reunited with his parents.
Jimmy O’Reilly, 3, (pictured) was found safe and sound after a desperate search in bushland
Jimmy was then transported to hospital and after an overnight stay for observation, was discharged on Sunday morning.
His parents, along with WA Police Force have thanked the emergency service volunteers and community members involved in the search.
WA Premier Mark McGowan was also pleased to hear Jimmy had been found safe and well.
‘I’m sure all of us who are parents felt for his family in that very traumatic situation,’ he said.
‘Finding little Jimmy was a wonderful thing. A tragedy averted.’