These two young girls were finally rescued and reunited with their parents after spending 44 hours in the Northern Californian wilderness.
The ordeal began on Friday afternoon when 8-year-old Leia Carrico and her 5-year-old sister Caroline asked their mother if they could go on a hike.
The family routinely goes on weekend camping trips and hikes, so it was nothing out of the ordinary – but things took a turn when the sisters accidentally wandered too far down a deer trail through their parents’ 80-acre property in Benbow. The girls then realized that they were walking in circles when they passed the same set of metal poles in the forest.
Though Caroline and Leia were frightened, they remembered all the survival skills that they learned from their camping trips, 4H camps, and favorite television shows.
As temperatures plunged during their first night in the wild, the girls sheltered themselves from the rain by draping one of their jackets over a huckleberry bush and huddling together for warmth. They used the huckleberry leaves to drink rainwater, and Leia encouraged her younger sister to think happy thoughts and have faith that their father would rescue them.
Meanwhile, their parents became panicked when their children failed to return home before dark. They phoned the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department and launched a 250-person rescue crew to scour the woods.
The next day, Carolina says that she remembered the most important rule for surviving in the wilderness: staying put. The two girls spent another night huddled in their “huckleberry home” as they waited for rescuers to find them.
Both nights, Leia kept watch for wild animals while her younger sister slept.
Finally on Sunday afternoon, they heard rescuers calling their names, and after yelling back in response, two firefighters emerged from the woods and were relieved to find that the youngsters were safe.
#searchandrescue #update Leia and Caroline were found approximately 1.4 miles south of their residence near Richardson's Grove. Here's a first look from the scene where first responders located the girls.— Humboldt County Sheriff (@HumCoSO) March 3, 2019
Press release with more information as soon as possible today. pic.twitter.com/k2bUTQOtrt
“Hypothermia could have set in, but they kept dry. That was the key thing for these girls,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal told ABC News after the rescue.
“As far as their appearances go, no scratches, they weren’t wet,” he added. “They were smart enough to stay under canopies of tall trees and stay near tree trunks. They hiked all the way to the location and stopped when they knew they were lost. That was exactly what they were supposed to do.
“They looked like they were out for a stroll, like they were gone an hour from the house.”
An hour after they were found, the girls had an emotional reunion with their frantic parents – and there was not a dry eye in the crowd.
The girls were then taken to the hospital where they were checked out and given pizza for their empty stomachs.
Their mother, Misty Carrico, says that the girls won’t be allowed on any more daytime hikes until they are equipped with GPS trackers for safety.
“I’m trying not to punish them,” she told the news outlet. “They saved each other. I’m the proud mom. I raised super heroes.”
(WATCH the news coverage below)
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