A student who went missing from The Kings School in North Parramatta has been found safe near his grandparents house.
Police launched a massive ground and air search for Ethan Gordon, 17, who is a border at the school, after he did not attend his morning classes.
The school reported him missing about 2.30pm and his distressed parents travelled from Coffs Harbour to attend the search.
Superintendent Phillip Flogel said Ethan had been found ‘‘safe and well’’ about 1.15pm, near his grandparents place in Penrith after someone recognised him from media reports.
The grandparents had been with the boy’s parents and police at the school, where SES volunteers and police were searching for the boy.
They had no indication, Superintendent Flogel said, that Ethan may have been heading towards their home.
‘‘We immediately had a senior officer escort the parents and the grandparents across to Penrith to reunite them,’’ he said.
Superintendent Flogel defended the police response, which included the use of dozens of officers, State Emergency Service volunteers, police helicopters and other resources.
‘‘We did have a response here, a large response in terms of searching as well as making other inquiries and that was important because we had information that Ethan had behaved out of character and we were very concerned for his welfare.’’
Ethan had apparently left the school without anything other than the school uniform he was wearing, Superintendent Flogel said.
Police had not spoken to the year 11 student, he said, to determine why he had left the school without telling anyone.
The headmaster of the prestigious school on Pennant Hills Road, Dr Tim Hawkes, said he was ‘‘absolutely delighted’’ that Ethan had been found.
‘‘We’re a very close community and when one of us goes missing we all feel that pain and concern and so the school community is vastly relieved,’’ he said.
‘‘I was very worried because it was just so out of character, Ethan has a magnificent smile he is a delightful young man from a lovely family and he has no history of this sort of thing before.’’
Dr Hawkes said there would be no punishment for Ethan when he returned to school.
But he anticipated Ethan might have some explaining to do.
‘‘I think for the moment we are going to celebrate in his safe return rather than engage in any speculation why he has gone,’’ Dr Hawke said.
The school’s community was rocked last month by the death of Thomas Kelly, who died after being king hit in Kings Cross.
Dr Hawke said Ethan’s safe return to school would be treated as a good news story.
‘‘In life there are good stories and there are bad stories and no one is going to be immune to either,’’ he said.
‘‘And one needs to accept occasions such as this and celebrate them and enjoy them because life also has the habit of throwing the curve ball at you as well.’’