Sleepwalking Vasai toddler leaves home in the middle of the night to reach cousins

Updated: Jan 21, 2018, 11:02 IST | Samiullah Khan

Used to long hours at relative's house, including sleepovers, as busy parents juggled work and home, two-and-a-half-year-old boy leaves in the middle of night, unable to sleep next to his father

Nathaniel Koli stays with his father Austin, mother Harshada and elder brother Auriol in Vasai Gaon. Pics/Hanif Patel
Nathaniel Koli stays with his father Austin, mother Harshada and elder brother Auriol in Vasai Gaon. Pics/Hanif Patel

Did you have a sibling or cousin you were inseparable from, spending days on end together? This Vasai toddler had a houseful of them - his paternal uncle's house a few minutes from his own, teeming with brothers and sisters he enjoyed spending time with, as his working parents rushed about. So much so, that a few days back, when his father brought him home to sleep, as he was missing his little one, the toddler just couldn't turn in, in a 'different' bed, and sleepwalked his way out of the house in the middle of the night.

Nathaniel Koli stays with his father Austin, mother Harshada and elder brother Auriol in Vasai Gaon. Pics/Hanif Patel

He was subconsciously headed towards his uncle's home but got lost on the way, walking more than a kilometre to an unknown area. Luckily for the family, the two men who spotted the boy turned out to be good Samaritans and handed him over to the police.

Dark scare
Narrating the incident, police sources said it happened on the intervening night of January 13 and 14. The two-and-a-half-year-old boy, identified as Nathaniel Koli, stays with his father Austin, 36, mother Harshada, 30, and brother Auriol, 6, in Vasai Gaon. While Austin works with the marine police in Palghar district, Harshada is a nurse.

The police said that with both parents working, they would drop their kids off at Austin's brother's house in the same locality every day. Recently, after Austin had to be admitted to hospital, the kids spent an entire week with their cousins, as Harshada had to stay back to look after Austin.

"After getting discharged and returning home, I was missing Nathaniel a lot. So I went to my brother's house and got him home, asking him to sleep next to me that night. But I saw that he was awake till 2 am. I must have dozed off after that; when I woke up at 5, he was missing. I asked my wife to search everywhere, but we couldn't find him," said Austin.

"My first thought was that he had been kidnapped and that we would get a ransom call any minute. So, it was a huge relief to get a call from the police, saying our boy had been found and was with them."

In the right hands
Sources said two men found the boy 1.5 km from his home, walking serenely. When they approached him and asked him what he was doing here and where he had come from, he kept on walking as if he hadn't heard them.

An officer from Vasai Gaon police station said, "Our team was on night patrolling. While passing the village, two men stopped the van and told our personnel about an identified boy walking alone. Our team picked him up, and later, we clicked a photo of him and circulated it on WhatsApp. Finally, some people recognised him and got in touch with us as well as the family."

Austin said, "When I saw footage from the CCTV in the neighbourhood, I saw Nathaniel walking alone. There were dogs behind him, barking their heads off. But he appeared completed oblivious and kept going without any fear. "The sea is just a couple of minutes walk from our house. Anything could have happened; he didn't know where he was going. I am thankful to the two people who found him."

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