March 4 (UPI) — Two young girls reported missing in the California wilderness late last week were found safe Sunday.
Boot prints discovered early Sunday morning by two members of the Piercy Volunteer Fire Department led the rescue team to Leia, 8, and Caroline Carrico, 5, huddled together under a bush, 1.4 miles away from their residence.
“I am pleased to report we’re all witnessing a miracle today,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said in a media conference.
The girls were found safe, sound, ambulatory and in good spirits, he said, 44 hours after they had first been reported missing.
They were cold and dehydrated, but were receiving the appropriate medical attention, he said.
“It has been unbelievable,” he said, adding that the rescue would not have been possible without the assistance of the numerous agencies, counties and volunteers who offered their time and resources.
More than 250 people aided in the search-and-rescue effort, according to a media release.
“Only through their efforts were we able to [find the girls],” he said.
The girls were given food, warm clothing and water before being reunited with their mother.
Honsal said little is yet known about how they survived the “rugged” and “extreme” environment but that they had received some wilderness training from 4-H.
“These girls have definitely a survival story to tell and we’re definitely looking forward to hear it from them,” he said.
Lieutenant Mike Fridley was in charge of the search operation and said he was the one to break the news to the girls’ mother.
“She melted on the phone,” he said. “We had to hang up because she couldn’t talk.”
“This is an absolute miracle,” Honsal said.