For 32 excruciating hours there was hope that missing autistic teenager William Wall, 14, would be found alive – that he would walk dazed and scratched, but otherwise unharmed from the dense bushland outside Melbourne.
William was last seen jogging on Tuesday – his disappearance sparked a massive search and the tearful calls of his distraught family tore the hearts of the country.
But the sad reality is that the search for William – hindered by the fourth covid restrictions that kept volunteers from participating in the hunt – would never have a happy ending.
When police released the news on Wednesday afternoon, the autistic teenager had been found dead, accompanied by an ominous statement.
“His death is not being treated as suspicious and the police will prepare a report for the coroner,” it said.
It can now be tragically confirmed that William’s death was the result of suicide.
William Wall (pictured), 14, was found dead on Wednesday in Yarra Junction, Melbourne, 32 hours after he went missing on his daily jog on Tuesday
William’s distraught father Shane (pictured) struggled to hold back tears as he thanked volunteers, police, the SES and family members who had searched all night
Hours earlier, police had come under fire after concerned locals were rejected to aid the search efforts.
As far as they knew, the 14-year-old had gone for a jog along the Yarra Ranges’ Warburton Trail at 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday and promised his family he would be back in 15 minutes.
But he never returned to his home in Launching Place.
It remains unknown how long William was dead before his body was found.
In all likelihood, the search – perhaps unbeknownst to those participating – was a recovery mission from the outset.
William’s disappearance had led to an air and ground investigation involving about 100 personnel from Victoria Police and the State Emergency Service.
But police seemed eager to enforce Melbourne’s phase four coronavirus restrictions, which included staying within three miles of home.
William’s two older brothers and friends, who were looking for him on dirt bikes with rescuers on Tuesday night, could not look further the next day.
“The whole police have told us that we are not allowed to help because we are outside the three-mile radius, further delaying finding him,” said his older brother Harrison. Seven News.
Family friend Flynn Cousens added, “I’d rather go outside the three-mile radius to find him than hang on to three miles and let him stay there another night.”
William’s older brother Harrison Wall (pictured) was stopped by police from continuing the search due to Melbourne’s strict phase four lockdown restrictions
Clearly, William’s body was found in bushland at the end of a residential street less than two kilometers from his home.
Last night, William’s family gathered on the closed road near where his body was found.
Distraught rescuers and locals were also seen comforting each other on the spot.
Family friend Tyson Truscott said the walls would be destroyed by the tragedy.
‘He was a great boy. There is nothing bad about him. He liked to run, he went really fast, ”he told the Herald Sun.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the outcome as very sad news.
My heart goes out to William’s family and loved ones. Thanks to everyone involved in the search, ” he tweeted on Wednesday evening.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt added: “I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of William Wall. Just a terrible, terrible loss of a beautiful young life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and the Yarra Ranges community. ‘
Friends console each other on the spot after police confirmed that William’s body had been found
Distraught rescuers comfort each other after William Wall’s body was found Wednesday
The search began its second day on Wednesday after rescue teams spent one night in the area after the temperature dropped to 7 ° C.
Locals were upset after being advised to keep an eye out for William, but not violate the COVID-19 restrictions of Stage Four Melbourne by limiting outdoor time to two hours and within three miles of home. stay.
“ In accordance with the limitations of the coronavirus, we do not need public help at this stage, ” read a post on the Eyewatch Yarra Ranges Police Facebook on Tuesday evening.
“However, we would like to thank you for all the offers we have received.”
Police later claimed their position had nothing to do with lockdown.
“This has nothing to do with COVID,” local police inspector Jason Goddard told reporters.
‘We don’t want to include this in a COVID conversation. What we do is focus our search on Will.
“If the resources that we have on site and that we have deployed today are not sufficient, we will ask for more resources.”
Locals expressed their anger at the police during a tense rally.
“If that’s my kid out there, I’d like everyone on the ground to look out there,” one resident said.
An ambulance leaves the street in Yarra Junction where William’s body was found
Distraught rescue workers on the ground console each other after the search ended tragically
Bush Search and Rescue Victoria volunteers are pictured outside Warburton Police Station prior to the search hours before William was found dead
SES personnel leave Warburton State Police ahead of search for missing autistic boy William Wall, who was later found dead
William’s distraught father Shane struggled to hold back tears as he thanked volunteers, police, the SES and family members who had searched all night.
“I just want everyone to be safe,” he told reporters on Wednesday afternoon, hours before police confirmed that his son had been found dead.
‘I never want to be in this situation, but the people here are fantastic. I mean I’ve been in the valley for a long time and am from overseas but this just blew me away. ‘
“Real support from the locals, the Facebook community and the message boards and that, fantastic. Top class and the police and SES, again it was great. ‘
“I’ve hardly spoken to my wife, but they work with them to take care of her and I help where I can.”
At the time, he still hoped that William would be found alive, adding that his son was ‘pretty hardcore’ and knew the area well.
Police advised volunteers to stay at home instead of looking for William, saying, ‘We don’t need any help from the public at this stage’
William’s father Shane Wall fought at a press conference on Wednesday just hours before the search for his son ended tragically
Mr. Wall said his “energetic, very athletic” son loved sports and dreamed of joining the police or military as he got older.
William had a younger sister, Sophie, and two older brothers Jake and Harrison, who joined the search on Tuesday night.
William’s disappearance came three months after non-verbal autistic teen William Callaghan separated from his family during a walk on Mount Disappointment, 37 miles north of Melbourne.
The teenager spent two nights alone before being miraculously found safe and sound.
There would be no happy ending for William’s family.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Police blocked this road in Yarra Junction after William Wall’s body was found