Toddler who disappeared at Michigan campsite found alive, police say
Joe Sutton, Hollie Silverman, Carma Hassan and Susan Scutti, CNN
(CNN) — A toddler who vanished Monday from a Michigan campsite has been found alive, Michigan State Police reported Tuesday.
While search teams combed the countryside on Tuesday morning, Gabriella Vitale, 2, wandered onto the porch of a house less than half a mile from where she went missing, Lt. Travis House of Michigan State Police told CNN.
“A woman at that residence was aware she was missing and notified us,” he said. “She survived a night in the woods by herself, and came out of this incident relatively unscathed.”
House said Gabriella was in “remarkably good condition,” even though she lost her bottoms and shoes.
“She was reunited with her mother and given some food and water. EMS was called and took her to a local hospital to get checked out,” he said.
Lost and found
The girl’s family lost track of the toddler Monday morning as they were packing up their campsite in Comins Township, Michigan, according to the Oscoda County Sheriff’s Office. They’d been camping there since last week.
After her family reported her missing, the toddler’s pink jacket was found several hundred yards south east of where she was last seen. With no other clues, the search team focused their effort in that direction, House said.
Comins Township, located near the northeast corner of Oscoda County, consists of hilly farmland to the west and the Huron National Forest to the east. The township has about 8,000 residents. The girl’s family is from Monroe County, on the western shore of Lake Erie to the south.
“The searching ramped up all evening, to include several law enforcement officers and canine teams. Volunteer search and rescue teams also began to arrive and offered their resources,” House said.
The US National Forest Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which provided trucks and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) in addition to searchers, joined the effort as well.
The search, which had continued Monday night until about 2 a.m., resumed around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, House said. By mid-morning, more than 50 searchers were in the woods, while 10 canine teams reported to help.
At about 11:45 a.m., Gabriella climbed onto her rescuer’s porch.
Impressed that the toddler endured a night alone in the woods, House concluded: “This little girl was a real trooper.”