Eight-year-old Joe went missing from his family’s garden in the German town of Oldenburg on June 17, sparking a massive police search. It was reported by the British BBC website. Based on findings so far, it appears that he was playing on the property in front of his house and, according to the police, “most likely” climbed into a nearby concrete sewer pipe, which was about a meter in diameter.
Between the entrance and where the boy was found were regularly spaced canal shafts in which the boy could stand. The child probably lost his orientation more and more. “The boy’s initial statement supports this assumption,” the police statement said.
He was eventually found by a passer-by who heard the noise coming from the hatch of a canal only about 300 meters from the boy’s home.
Initially, the investigators feared that something worse could have happened to Joe, because one of the witnesses said that he saw the boy in the company of unknown persons. But now the police have ruled out someone else’s fault and claim that the boy climbed into the canal on the day of his disappearance and has been staying there ever since.
After the firefighters pulled the boy out, he was taken to the hospital with hypothermia, but he did not suffer any serious injuries. “Thanks to a tip from the public, we were able to find Joe in the sewers. The most important thing is that he is alive and was immediately taken to the hospital where he is in good hands. We can all breathe a sigh of relief,” said police chief Johann Kühme.
Officers also found several pieces of the boy’s clothing in the area between the child’s home and the location where security forces found him. It was located in a pipe only about 60 centimeters in diameter. They were all pieces of clothing that Joe had been wearing before his disappearance.
Joe’s father told local media that the boy was “doing well” given the circumstances. There has been speculation about how the boy ended up in the canal, but police said on Tuesday that he crawled in and then “lost his bearings”.
It can be assumed that Joe became more and more lost in the pipe system and could no longer find an exit. As Lower Saxony’s NDR television reported, Joe allegedly told a hospital employee that he had been alone the whole time. According to the investigators, they have not yet managed to interrogate the boy more thoroughly.