Teenager Will Callaghan has been missing at Mt Disappointment since yesterday.

By Jackson Russell

The search continues for missing teenager William Callaghan in the Mt Disappointment State Forest this morning.

SES, CFA and Bush Search and Rescue are all currently out looking for the 14-year-old Drysdale boy who is autistic and non-verbal.

Temperatures dropped to below zero overnight and are currently about three degrees but feel like -1.

Will is very food focused so police are asking members of the community to open any windows and doors if they are cooking, in the hope that he can smell the food.

He likes chocolate. He is also very interested in Thomas the Tank Engine and water bottles.

If people see Will police advise that they should use hand gestures to get his attention.

Kilmore’s Corbin Mundy and his father are among many local people helping with the search.

Volunteers have also arrived in four-wheel-drives, on motorcycles and on horseback to lend a hand.

Kilmore residents Corbin Mundy and his father are searching the forest on horseback.

Corbin, 17, said horses were able to cover terrain that other vehicles could not.

“We can go wherever we want, where motorbikes can’t go, we can go with horses,” he said.

“If this happened to me or my brother, I’d like people to come out and help.”

Police are due to give an update on the situation at 10.30am.

SES volunteers prepare at the staging area at Blair’s Hut at Mt Disappointment.

EARLIER (9/6/20):

The search is ongoing for teenager William Callaghan in the Mt Disappointment State Forest more than 24 hours after he went missing.

More than 450 people joined the search for the 14-year-old.

Victoria Police Acting Inspector Christine Lalor said additional volunteers were not needed at this stage with the amount of people currently taking part in the search.

People both in the Mt Disappointment area and outside it are being urged to check every room and outhouse for Will and to be mindful if he is found near a road as he does not have a good road sense.

“William’s quite active, he could have travelled quite a distance,” Insp Lalor said.

“Anyone outside the immediate area, do not discount that William may not have travelled that far so check your house.”

The search will continue overnight with police employing every tool at their disposal including thermal imaging and aircrafts.

Insp Lalor said the family was holding up as well as could be expected.

“As you can imagine, they’re quite distraught and it’s pretty devastating for anyone that’s missing a child but they’re holding up as well as can be expected,” she said.

Whittlesea SES controller Gary Doorbar said this was one of the biggest search operations the unit has conducted.

“We have about 60 members from 12 different units across Victoria and more coming up tonight,” he said.

“It’s been very cold, very rough, very tough but members are in good spirits and hoping for a good outcome.”

Whittlesea SES controller Gary Doorbar.

EARLIER (9/6/20):

Police have been overwhelmed with volunteers wanting to assist with the search of a teenager missing in the Mt Disappointment State Forest but don’t need anymore at this stage.

Whittlesea police thanked the community for their overwhelming support in the search for missing teenager William Callaghan, 14, but say if they require further assistance, a request will be issued via the media.

In the meantime, residents at Mt Disappointment and nearby areas are urged to check their own houses, sheds and surrounds for William, known as Will.

He may have sought shelter overnight.

Will, from Drysdale, has autism and is non-verbal. He does not have food or water with him, and was not dressed for the elements of an evening which dropped to temperatures close to zero.

Will was wearing blue tracksuit pants and a blue windcheater.

Volunteers plus emergency services personnel continue the search, which began late yesterday, after Will was separated from his family while walking to the summit.

A police command post has been set up at Blair’s Hut, with the search area between Wandong and Whittlesea.

Will has been missing since 2.20pm on Monday after losing contact with his family on the southern side of the mountain.

Acting Inspector Christine Lalor said Will was with his family when he ran ahead.

“If anyone finds him the best way to communicate with him is just to be patient and calm with him,” she said.

“William is capable of wandering a fair distance. He does like food and water, and there is a fair chance he could go into houses or places to seek food or water.

“So if anyone in the area if they could check their beds, their home or their outhouses to see if William are in those locations.”

Acting Inspector Lalor said if anyone found Will they should call triple zero immediately and try to keep him calm and warm.

“Obviously its been a cold night and for the family, and everyone involved, its very concerning. We want to find William as soon as possible,” she said.

Acting Inspector Lalor said Will communicated by tapping his chest, and he can make noises but is unable to verbalise.

She said the family were okay in the circumstances but, like any family, were upset.

Search and rescue squad’s Senior Sergeant Greg Paul speaks to media at Mt Disappointment this morning.

Search and Rescue Squad’s Senior Sergeant Greg Paul said temperatures overnight were ‘life threatening’.

“This is very thick bush here, it’s bushfire regrowth so vegetation is thick, which actually hampers searches and it’s difficult to search through the thick undergrowth here and very difficult to see someone from the air,” he said.

“The only advantage from that is there is an opportunity to stay a little bit warm if you can snuggle up to the undergrowth and seek a bit of insulation.

“From past experience, we know it can take a long time to find someone if they’re relatively lost.

“We’re giving it our best shot and pulling out everything to find this young fellow. It’s very distressing for him and his family, and the whole community.”

Sen Sgt Paul thanked all the volunteers who were helping search for Will.

“We really appreciate all the people coming out today and last night,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of people out there, but with this is thick bush so it does take a long time.”

Volunteers on horseback are searching for the teenager.

Volunteers in four-wheel-drives, on motorcycles and on horseback have joined police and SES in the search, with about 130 volunteers on the ground this morning.

“We’ve got to be very careful because we don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way,” Sen Sgt Paul said.

“If someone comes along to help, we have to register them and have an assessment of what their capabilities are.

“We don’t wan to be inundated with people who are going to get themselves in strife when they are out helping.”

Sen Sgt Paul said Will was heading south and police hoped he had sought shelter at a nearby property.

“When you have someone out there lost in the bush, we’re fighting against time,” he said.

“We’ve all got limitations, especially at this time of year.

“We really don’t want to have someone out here multiple nights.”

 

A search by ground and in the air has been underway at Mt Disappointment since late yesterday.

Will was last seen on the south side of the summit yesterday afternoon.

Police have been told Will is very energetic and could cover a lot of distance.

“He’s also very food focused. It would not be out of the question for William to walk into a house and go to the fridge or cupboard and help himself to food,” a police statement issued late last night said.

“He might also try to put himself to bed. So we are asking residents nearby and in the vicinity of Mount Disappointment to check bedrooms and outhouses.”

Police urge people to call triple zero (000) immediately if they see Will.

1 COMMENT

  1. Try mum’s voice recorded calling him , over loud speakers or radio carried by searchers or played in search vehicles maybe reassured and familiar to come out. May think he will be in trouble seeing police etc and hide.

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