After double tragedies rocked Australia last week, farmer Tom Wagner couldn't bear hearing about another. So when he heard a dad and his two young sons had disappeared on a road trip and been missing for a week, Wagner canceled his waterskiing plans, conferred with other local farmers and churchgoers, and took off on his ATV to search for them in nearby Expedition National Park, news.com.au reports. His efforts paid off when he located Steven Van Lonkhuyzen and sons Ethan, 7, and Timothy, 5, yesterday, near their four-wheel-drive vehicle, which was mired in the mud, the AP reports. A Queensland police rep says that Lonkhuyzen was trying to cut through the park—not usually frequented this time of year because of inhospitable weather—from his home in Brisbane to a friend's house in Cairns when he made a wrong turn.
The trio was able to survive in the hot, muggy wilderness thanks to several factors. Lonkhuyzen carefully rationed their four-day food supply—they were down to their last bread slices when Wagner found them, the Guardian reports—and caught rainwater to drink in a plastic container. Lonkhuyzen also kept the family next to the car, set up eye-catching items around the vehicle in case search parties came by, and made the boys stick to a daily routine. The last piece of the puzzle was Wagner, who had been tending his cattle when he saw their vehicle enter the remote national park a few days earlier. The boys are recovering and in stable condition at a local hospital, and Wagner says he hopes to stay in contact with them. "It's good to have a good story like that in time for Christmas," he says. (Here's how a man lost at sea for 12 days survived.)