‘Really relieved’: Cleo’s rescue ‘means everything’ to Carnarvon community

·3-min read

"My name is Cleo."

These are the four simple words that will forever be burned in to the memories of Carnarvon residents.

The small west coast community had been fearing the worst since the four-year-old vanished without a trace from her family’s campsite at the remote Blowholes on the Western Australian coast on October 16.

But since the “unbelievable” news broke that detectives had discovered her “alive and well” inside a suburban house just minutes from her family home, locals have been “glued” to their phones and the TV as new details of the rescue emerged.

(left) A police officer guards the house where Cleo was found (right) A supplied photo of Cleo
The house where Cleo Smith was found is just a short drive from her family home. Source: 7 News/Facebook

“This means everything to everybody in this town,” Carnarvon resident Anthony Nayar told Yahoo News.

“It's the best news, everyone is really relieved. It’s all anyone is talking about.”

Mr Nayar, who works as a chef at Fascine Café praised police for their hard work, adding officers had only been to see him on Monday to collect CCTV footage.

“They had a few leads by the looks of it,” he said

“We expected the worst but now the whole town can celebrate.”

Western Australia Police threw all their resources into the investigation, including putting up a $1 million reward.

My Nayar said her disappearance particularly struck a nerve with him because his son is the same age and attended the same daycare as Cleo.

“It's had a huge impact. The town has been devastated but at least now everyone can start to feel better in their own community again.”

Community support applauded

Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith said in a statement he had “never been prouder” of the close-knit community he represents.

"This is a joyous day," the statement read.

"Cleo is back home safely with her family, our hopes and prayers have been answered.

"To the Carnarvon community — you have shown what community is all about.

"You have supported Ellie and Jake, you have supported the police, you have taken every measure to help bring about this result.

"I have never been prouder to be the Shire President of Carnarvon."

Cleo’s family 'overwhelmed’ and ‘happy’

Cleo has now been reunited with her family after 19 agonising days apart.

A Carnarvon baker who works with Cleo Smith's grandmother has told 9 News she was lost for words when he called her this morning.

"Overwhelming, I can tell you," Joseph Nguyen said.

"Even this morning, very early in the morning we called Cleo's grandma and she's just so happy. She can't say anything. She's just like, 'We are so happy'."

Supplied photos of Cleo Smith from her family. Source: TikTok/elliesmith2223
Four-year-old Cleo Smith went missing on October 16. Source: TikTok/elliesmith2223

On Wednesday morning, Cleo's mother Ellie Smith shared a post to Instagram relating to the news of her daughter being found safe.

"Our family is whole again," Ms Smith wrote.

Community waits for answers

A 36-year-old man is being questioned by police following the early-morning raid.

Forensic officers have been combing over the scene as they try to piece together the motives behind the alleged abduction and what has happened in the weeks since she was taken.

The Carnarvon community, along with the rest of the nation, is now eagerly awaiting answers.

Cleo disappeared without a trace in the early hours of October 16 from her family’s tent.

Her parents woke at 6am to discover she was missing.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting