A seven-year-old boy who went missing overnight from a campsite in his Scooby Do jacket was safely found today – sleeping under an oak tree.
The blond, blue-eyed youngster, named only as Luke, sparked a massive search when he wandered off from his parents’ tent at around 7pm to play in nearby woods.
But he failed to return and up to 60 police, including armed officers and a helicopter, were scrambled amid fears of an April Jones-style abduction.
Around 100 half-term holidaymakers also joined the huge operation around Thistledown Farm in Nympsfield, nr Stroud, Glos.
And after an agonising 11 hours the youngster was found at 6am yesterday unharmed and sleeping soundly in the shadow of a tree just metres away from the 70-acre site.
His parents – on holiday from the Worcester area – broke down in tears as they were reunited with their son.
Site manager Ryan Kelly said: “I’m really relieved. It’s hard not to imagine the worse case scenarios during times like these
“Your mind goes running off in the worst possible directions – especially with little April Jones being so fresh in everybody’s mind – but thankfully he was found safe and well.
“I think he just got a bit disorientated coming back from the woods and got turned around – it’s very easy to do.
“But he did the right thing, and stayed where he was. There are so many things that could have gone wrong but didn’t.
“He spent the night asleep by a tree, quite close to where we were searching and a camper found him asleep by a tree.
“Everyone here was really great – I can’t thank our guests enough. I’m so glad it ended in the best possible way.”
The little boy was reported missing around 7pm on Thursday evening by his frantic parents.
He had been wearing a dark ‘Scooby Do’ rain jacket with hood, dark jogging bottoms and wellies.
Farmer Richard Kelly, who owns the site which borders the thousand-acre Woodchester Park forest, said: “It was a nightmare none of us want to go through again.
“Everybody was brilliant, and it’s such a relief he was found safe and well. He was found right on the edge of our camp site – just metres from the tents.
“He heard the helicopter but he didn’t hear us calling. The lad did the right thing though – when you’re lost in the dark, just stay put and wait for light. Luckily it was a mild night and he was wearing a coat.
“When they were reunited, both the boy and his dad were in floods of tears. It was so emotional.”
The boy and his parents were too exhausted to talk about their ordeal yesterday morning.