YASHIRO ISLAND, Japan – Most toddlers celebrate turning 2 with cake and presents. Yoshiki Fujimoto spent his birthday lost on a Japanese mountain, the subject of a frantic three-day search after he disappeared while with his grandfather.
The South China Morning Post reports on the “miracle” of a volunteer finding Yoshiki Wednesday, perched with no shoes on a rock in the middle of a stream on Yashiro Island, almost 72 hours after he was reported missing. The Asahi Shimbun notes the boy had been headed to the beach on Aug. 12 with his grandfather and 3-year-old brother when Yoshiki decided he wanted to turn around and return to his great-grandfather’s home about 300 feet away, which his grandfather didn’t stop him from doing. Shortly afterward, it was discovered he never made it back.
Nearly 400 cops and other rescuers—as well as drones and search dogs, per Channel NewsAsia—were deployed to find Yoshiki, who doctors feared would succumb to dehydration and Japan’s summer heat.
Being credited with Yoshiki’s discovery: 78-year-old volunteer Haruo Obata, who correctly guessed the boy was more likely to have climbed up the mountain rather than down it. Obata tells the Shimbun that as he called the boy’s name around 6:30am Wednesday, he heard an “I’m here” and found the child, who “snatched a bag of candy” from Obata’s hands as he held it out to him.
Yoshiki was found to be dehydrated, with tick bites and scratches, but otherwise fine. “I’m so grateful my son returned safely,” Yoshiki’s mother told local TV.
The boy’s grandfather tells the Morning Post, “I apologize, as it was I who took my eyes off him.”