Two sisters with survival training, 5 and 8 years old, were found alive in the California wilderness after rescuers tracked their location using granola bar wrappers the girls dropped and the prints from one of their pink rubber boots.
Caroline and Leia Carrico were reported missing from their home in Benbow around 6 p.m. Friday night. They were found by a local fire chief and firefighter about 44 hours later 1.4 miles from home, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said at a news conference Sunday.
“We’re all witnessing a miracle,” Honsal said. “This is rugged territory, this is extreme environment.”
“They definitely have a survival story to tell,” he said.
The girls were dehydrated and cold, but were not injured.
“They were trained through 4-H for outdoor survival, we believe that played a part” in their survival, Honsal said. 4-H is a nonprofit that runs youth groups around the country.
More than 250 people from 14 agencies searched for the girls. Rescuers eventually found their bootprints and wrappers from granola bars, Lt. Mike Fridley told reporters.
"The wrappers showed us a direction from where they started to where the wrappers ended up at,” Fridley said.
“Granola bar wrappers and boot prints gave us a location and starting point. Search crews followed additional boot prints found this morning, which led to the girls,” Samantha Karges, a spokesperson for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, told BuzzFeed News.
The tracks led rescuers to an area near Richardson Grove State Park, and when search crews shouted their names, the girls responded.
“The girls were located huddled together under a bush,” the sheriff’s office said. “The girls told first responders that they were following a deer trail when they had become lost. The two decided to stay put, drinking fresh water from Huckleberry leaves.
“The sisters were evaluated by medical personnel for dehydration and given water and warm, dry clothing. They were reunited with family shortly after being located,” the office said.
Sometimes, Honsal said, “we don’t have successful outcomes — this one we did.”