A six-year-old who sparked a nine-hour search when he vanished from a service station was asleep when he was found beside the motorway, his father said.
Aadil Umair Rahim was on a school trip when he went missing from Newport Pagnell services on the M1 on Friday.
More than 1,000 people joined police and fire crews to search through the night for the Nottingham schoolboy.
Umair Rahim said his son was “perfectly fine”, adding: “Police told me he was sleeping when they found him.”
Aadil was found near roadworks just off the northbound carriageway at about 04:15.
“I have no idea if he was outside for the whole nine hours,” his father said.
Mr Rahim said his son and his classmates had been visiting museums in London “and the group had stopped at the services for a comfort break”.
He said he was grateful to the emergency services, and “those members of [the] public who sacrificed their evening to assist with the search for our son”.
Search-and-rescue teams from four regions deployed 54 searchers, three dogs, and a boat to search for Aadil.
Initially it was thought the schoolboy could be hiding in the service station, but concern grew over the hours when there was no sign of him.
Buckinghamshire Search and Rescue’s Al Goffey said “it was a very cold Friday night”, with temperatures falling to 1C, and “there was a lot of concern for his safety and wellbeing”.
Searchers went out “to 350-500m in all directions” to try to find the six-year-old.
Mr Goffey said the boy had “managed to walk up through some fields” and was found close to a footbridge near Newbolt Close.
Supt Amy Clements described the search as “a challenging operation in difficult circumstances”, and added that “the community response was immense”.