41 searchers were en route to find Zilzie toddler
FOOTPRINTS the size of a small child gave police and searchers the first clue of where three-year-old Josh McMillian headed after slipping away from his home.
Capricornia district officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Ralph Faria, who commended the efforts of the community in this search, said the footprints were headed towards the Cawarral/ Cooroman Creek area.
He said police had been informed Josh was attracted to any sort of water which helped find him.
Snr Sgt Faria said there were a lot of concerns at the time because Josh has autism and was non-verbal.
SES Emu Park were the first team on the ground of 41 who responded to calls to help the search, SES Rockhampton coordinator Eddie Cowie said.
He said all others were en route from Yeppoon, Keppel Sands, Rockhampton, Gracemere and Mt Morgan when the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service found Josh in the mud.
"That would have been the start of it (41 SES volunteers)," Mr Cowie said.
"With young kids, we throw everything at it."
It was the reflection of the sun off Josh's little Foxy that grabbed the chopper's pilot's attention from about 300 metres away and lead to a fast, successful rescue, according to RACQ rescue crewman Grant Bollington.
"The pilot on the first circuit found the little fella and his puppy playing in 4wd ruts which were full of water," Mr Bollington said.
"He was in reasonable condition, obviously exposed to the elements but... a couple of scratches and exposed to the sun but otherwise ok."
He said Josh was half submerged in the muddy water when they first saw him and he got a bit distressed from the noise, but once he realised someone was there to look after him, he greeted him with open arms.
"The pilot would spotted him from, I would say, about 300 metres away," Mr Bollington said.
"It was actually the puppy that we found him with because the dog shone up in the sun. He was a white foxy. So he reflected the sun and made it quite easy to find the little fella because he was quite submerged in the water.
"His body was halfway under the water and the puppy certainly helped us find him.
"The helicopter made quite a fair bit of noise so he got a little bit scared. He got back out of the puddle and ran away but once he worked out there was someone there to look after him, because he was a little bit distressed. And with open arms he .... I grabbed a hold and the paramedic came in to make sure he was ok.
"So we dropped him off with his parents to make sure he was in good condition with one of the paramedics and another ambulance was on their way there to take him to hospital for a check over."