Sisters Who Survived Two Nights in Wilderness Describe Ordeal for First Time

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 5, 2019US News
Sisters Who Survived Two Nights in Wilderness Describe Ordeal for First Time
Leia Carrico (L), 8, Caroline Carrico, 5, were found safe on March 3, 2019. (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office)

Two California sisters who went missing for nearly 48 hours described their ordeal for the first time.

Leia Carrico, 5, and Caroline Carrico, 8, were found on March 3 after disobeying their mother, wandering into the woods, and getting lost.

They survived even though temperatures dropped into the 30s. Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal called the discovery “an absolute miracle.”

“They were safe and sound, still ambulatory, in good spirits, not injured,” he said at a press conference after the girls were found. “It’s nothing but good news right now.”

Leia and Caroline Carrico Reunited with their Parents

Local photographer Mark McKenna was there when Leia and Caroline, 8 and 5, respectively, were reunited with their parents after 44 hours and two rainy nights lost in the woods near Benbow, California. Volunteers Delbert Chumley and Abraham Hill from the Piercy Volunteer Fire Department found the girls amid an effort led by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Read our latest:

Nai-post ni North Coast Journal noong Linggo, Marso 3, 2019

In their first interview after being found, the girls said they knew they would be safe despite two harrowing nights in the woods.

“I felt a little nervous and a little afraid, but I knew dad would find us eventually,” Leia told KGO.

The girls said they decided to ignore their mother when she told them not to go into the woods and slipped out. Later, they passed a marker that their parents had told them never to pass.

“Leia wanted a little tiny more adventure, but I wanted more,” said Caroline.

Calif. girls
Leia Carrico, 8, and her sister Caroline Carrico, 5, in an undated file photo. (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The girls tried to head back at a certain point but took a wrong turn and got lost. The girls believe they walked up to 3 miles in the wrong direction but their mother said it was closer to 6 miles; when they were found, they were 1.4 miles from their house.

The first night, it started raining around dusk and the girls huddled under a tree branch and shared Caroline’s rain jacket.

”We found shelter, a tree branch near to the ground and we had my sister’s rain jacket to keep us warm. … We turned it sideways so both of us had an armhole that we stuck our arms into,” Leia told CBS.

“My sister cried the whole night and so I told her to think happy thoughts of our family, and so I kept watch for most of the night,” she added.

NTD Photo
Leia Carrico, 8, and her sister Caroline, 5, were found safe on March 3, 2019. (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office)

Leia started a fire, saying she watched a lot of movies of people surviving on tropical islands.

“When we woke up we stayed in the same place so Dad could find us. There was a creek nearby and we sang nursery rhymes at the top of our lungs,” explained Leia, reported KGO.

The girls spotted aircraft that search-and-rescue crews were using to look for them and tried yelling but the rescuers didn’t see them. The second day, it got so cold that the girls’ hands turned white and grew numb. The girls found a huckleberry bush and drank water from its leaves before using it as shelter.

On the third day, they finally heard rescuers in the area and called out. They were taken to a hospital, where doctors quickly cleared them.

The girls learned wilderness skills through their 4-H program, the sheriff said at the press conference, which the girls’ mother, Misty Carrico, confirmed.

Honsal said the area where the girls were found is rugged.

“This was rugged territory, this is an extreme environment and how they were out there for 44 hours is pretty amazing but it shows a resilience of people that actually grew up in this community. These girls definitely have a survival story to tell,” he said.

Carrico also credited the girls with sticking together and surviving. “They saved each other,” she said.

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