KUALA LUMPUR - It is 18 hours that British expatriate Sarah Joseph will want to forget.
Her close friend, Abena Bailey, 35, said Sarah was absolutely distraught after a man abducted her 20-month-old son Freddie from her home along Jalan Terasek 7 in Bangsar on Friday.
"In the first few hours, I can't even imagine what she was going through. It was like stepping through a portal into hell.
"She couldn't sleep at all. All she could focus on was her son and getting him back.
"But she has been very strong. I have never seen such resilience. If it were me I would have just crumbled," said Bailey.
Thirty-eight-year-old Sarah has been living in the country since August 2010.
She was feeding the boy at the porch but stepped in for a few seconds when she heard plates falling inside the house.
When she came back out, she saw a man, armed with a machete, lifting the baby from his chair. She tried to fight him but was overpowered.
A passer-by tried to stop him, but the man escaped in a white Toyota Camry with an accomplice believed to be a woman.
The man slashed Sarah in the right arm and she fractured a toe when she fell off while trying to cling to the car as it was speeding off.
About 16 hours later, a lorry driver, Hamid Md Isa, saw Freddie at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, about 20km from where he was abducted.
The boy, clad in a green T-shirt and white pants, was walking alone when Hamid, 57, was passing by at about 12.20pm yesterday. He stopped and took the boy to the edge of the park for a rest.
Soon, other members of the public joined him. One of them, Haris Mohd Nor, 48, bought some crackers and a packet drink for the boy.
Bernama deputy editor-in-chief Datuk Zakaria Abdul Wahab, who happened to be at the park, got confirmation from a Bernama reporter that the boy was the abducted child.
The police arrived soon after and took the boy to the Jalan Tun Razak police station.
"When Sarah got the call that they may have found him, I think she was still in disbelief. She couldn't believe it until she actually saw him," said Bailey.
"When we came into the station and saw Freddie, she just hugged him and refused to let him go."
Bailey said it had been a roller coaster of emotions for both mother and son, and appealed for privacy for the family.
Bailey derided rumours circulating in the social media over Freddie's father, who is separated from Sarah, being involved in the incident.
"I'll just say that they were not married and that 99 per cent of what was being said about their relationship online was not true," she said.
She added that Sarah wished to convey her thanks to the public for spreading the news of Freddie's abduction.
"She was unaware that the story had gone online. She told us to tell everyone how grateful she was for everyone's help."
City police CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah said that Freddie was returned to his mother at around 2.45pm yesterday.
SAC Ku said the boy did not look scared and was not crying when he was found.
"He looked fine but we will still send him to the hospital for a check-up," he said.