Lost Girls Survived 44 Hours In The Woods By Drinking Rain & Thinking “Happy Thoughts”

Leia Carrico, 8, and her sister Caroline, 5, said they put their 4-H wilderness training to good use.

March 08, 2019

Photo by: Leia and Caroline Carrico [Humboldt County Sheriff's Office]

Leia and Caroline Carrico [Humboldt County Sheriff's Office]

By: Mike McPadden

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA — A pair of young sisters who took off on a hike got lost and remained missing until Sunday, when searchers tracked their footprints and food wrappers. The sisters were unharmed, in good spirits, and eager to tell how they had made it through the two scary nights.

Leia Carrico, age 8, and her sister Caroline, 5, reportedly asked their mom, Misty, if they could go hiking last Friday in a wooded area near the family’s Northern California home.

Misty said no, but the sisters grabbed some granola bars and snuck away into the woods anyway. Later, Misty said she merely turned away momentarily, and the kids were gone.

Caroline eventually took the rap for their great escape, later admitting, “Leia wanted a little, tiny adventure. But I wanted more.”

Once the girls realized they were lost, they relied on skills they had learned at 4-H wilderness training. They conserved their granola bars by eating them just a little at a time, drank water droplets from leaves, and when it started to rain, took cover.

As Leia recalled, “We found shelter, a tree branch, close to the ground and we had my sister’s rain jacket to keep us warm.”

Leia also said she kept up a brave front for Caroline, but admitted, “I felt a little nervous, a little afraid, but I knew dad would find us eventually…. My sister cried the whole night so I told her to think happy thoughts of our family. ”

In the meantime, the girls’ parents were living a nightmare. Temperatures dropped to 38 degrees over the weekend and rain poured down repeatedly. In addition, the area the sisters had ventured into is known locally as “mountain lion country.”

Misty said she felt “awful, terrified, and guilty,” noting, “I spent two days crying my eyes out… I constantly heard my kids screaming for help in my head.”

A massive search ensued with more than 250 law enforcement and military personnel aiding the family’s friends and neighbors in the hunt. On Saturday, searchers reported finding granola bar wrappers. Misty confirmed it was the brand she’d had in the house. That was a good sign.

The next morning, firefighters Delbert Chumley and Abram Hill picked up a trail of footprints. Chumley later said, "We both popped out of the brush and slid under and there were these purple rain boots, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh!"

After joyfully reuniting with his daughters, dad Travis Carrico said, “I'm just so happy to have my girls back. It really is a miracle.”

Misty Carrico initially joked that Leia and Caroline were in “so much trouble,” but she then said there’d be no punishment, proclaiming, “They saved each other. I’m the proud mom. I raised superheroes.”

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