A 4-year-old Alabama girl survived more than 48 hours alone in the woods with only her dog to keep her company and watch over her.
Evelyn “Vadie” Sides was found alive late Friday afternoon by volunteer searchers after her disappearance about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. She was walking, talking, smiling and taken by ambulance to be medically checked out.
“I’m so happy and grateful to God for watching over my beautiful granddaughter and bringing her safely back to us,” said Vadie’s grandmother, Harriet Sides. “I’m on the way there now.”
Lee County sheriff’s officials were elated that she was found safe. “The dog was with her protecting her the whole time,” said LCSO Andrew Peacock. The dog, however, ran away again amid all the excitement. They expect the dog will return home.
Vadie was last seen in the 5000 block of Lee County Road 66 in Loachapoka, a town about a half mile west of Auburn. Authorities said she was under the supervision of her caretaker, who is in her 70s, and walking her dog when she and the dog “essentially just disappeared.” The caretaker also watches Vadie’s infant sister.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were on the scene Wednesday night searching for the little girl. The search effort continued Thursday and Friday with the use of helicopters and drones and even horseback. The search area was wooded, though not dense, and sparsely populated.
On Friday, sheriff’s officials announced that volunteers are now welcome. “Able-bodied persons in good physical condition are preferred due to dense wooded terrain and the scope of the search,’’ officials said.
Within hours of allowing the volunteers to join in, Vadie was found. She was within a mile of her home.