Police in northwest Germany said that an 8-year-old boy who had been missing for more than a week had been discovered alive in a sewage system close to his home.
The kid, identified as Joe, disappeared on June 17. This sparked a massive search effort and restless family members.
But eight days after he went missing, police in Oldenburg discovered him under a manhole cover, thanks to a tip from a citizen who heard sounds coming from the ground.
He was successfully rescued.
“After evaluating all traces and clues, the officers now assume that Joe crawled through a drain into the rainwater sewer system on the day of his disappearance and lost his orientation after several meters,” the police announced.
According to the initial investigation, they have “ruled out third-party negligence at this point in time.”
The search involved “a wide variety of police departments across the country as well as fire brigades and countless individual citizens who took part in the search for Joe.”
It looked like it was self-inflicted.
The boy was totally nude when they found him but he had no significant wounds, only extreme hypothermia, and dehydration, according to authorities.
He lost his sense of direction and could not find a way out.
Police said that he followed the sewer system through a plastic pipe with a diameter of barely 23.6 inches (60 centimeters) after allegedly crawling along the line for 23 meters (75 feet). In this pipe, some of his garments were recovered.
It must’ve been such a horrible 8 days for him.
The child managed to navigate sewage shafts and intersections to get to the spot beneath the manhole cover where he was found.
Officers once opened a homicide investigation after getting a tip that the boy had been spotted with an unidentified individual, but the report turned out to be untrue.
Police believe that there was no foul play.
Joe is still being treated in the hospital and is still receiving care, but he hasn’t been able to fully explain his side of the story to the police just yet.
But the initial police report stated that Joe is suffering from a learning disability.
During the investigation, they suggested that if he thought the search was a game, he might remain hidden.
Thankfully, everything worked out just fine.
“We are so happy, truly,” police spokesman Stephan Klatte remarked. “That is absolute luck. Of course, there was a possibility that we wouldn’t find the child there. Possibly, if he had not made a sound or these noises would not have been heard, then we may not have found him there at all.”
“I am very impressed by the great commitment of the past few days,” Oldenburg Police President Johann Kühme said. “I would like to thank all the main and volunteer forces and people who have done everything with empathy and a high personal effort—until late at night—to find the missing child.”
Joe’s father also expressed his deepest gratitude to everyone who took part in finding his precious son.
Check out the video below to know more about Joe’s story.