A teenager who showed up in a police station in a French town has been confirmed to be Alex Batty, a U.K. native who went missing in 2017 at the age of 11, authorities say.
Batty, who is now 17 years old, was walking alone at 3 a.m. in the rain in rural France, delivery driver Fabien Accidini, who spotted the boy, told The Associated Press.
Accidini, who CNN identified as a chiropractic student on a delivery run to a pharmacy, offered to give Batty a ride, given the rain and the remoteness of where he was walking, he told the BBC.
Once the teenager told him his real name, Accidini searched for him on the Internet and, upon realizing who he was, took him to the French military police, police said, according to the BBC.
Batty went missing after he went on a holiday trip with his mother and grandfather, who do not have legal custody of him, the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
His mother Melanie Batty and grandfather David Batty have not been located but the Greater Manchester Police said they are focused on Alex’s wellbeing and investigating his disappearance.
“Alex and his family remain our focus,” said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes in the Manchester police statement. “We still have some work to do in establishing the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance and where he has been.”
French prosecutor Antoine Leroy said Batty had told authorities that he’d been leaving in what the boy termed a “spiritual community,” the AP reports.
“He was never locked up,” Leroy said. “But he was always obliged to live in these conditions.”
According to Leroy, Batty told him he’d decided to leave the community when his mother said they had plans to relocate to Finland.
The boy had been on the move with Melanie and David during the time he was missing from the trip in Spain, and their locations since then have included Spain, Morocco and France