COMINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A missing 2-year-old girl was reunited with her family Tuesday morning, more than 24 hours after she wandered away from a woodland campsite in northern Michigan, prompting a massive search involving law enforcement dogs and a helicopter, police said.
After spending a night outside, Gabriella Roselynn Vitale walked up to a home in Oscoda County around 11:30 a.m. and a woman who lived there notified authorities, state police Lt. Travis House told reporters. The house was about half a mile from the campsite and just west of a command center set up by police.
“We found her coat to the south and east, so she covered quite a bit of ground,” House said. “This house kind of marked the very outside of where we covered searching, so far. Luckily there was a resident home. The resident had been contacted by us earlier, so she knew Gabriella was missing.”
Gabriella’s family told police that they lost track of her around 8:15 a.m. Monday while they were packing up at the Comins Township campsite, about 170 miles (275 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. Law enforcement from several agencies joined the hunt for the toddler that day, but couldn’t find her. She appeared at the home not long after the search resumed Tuesday morning.
House said Gabriella was “missing her bottoms and her shoes” when she showed up at the house, but that she “seems relatively unfazed for a 2-year-old who’s been in the woods overnight.”
He described Gabriella as being well and healthy. She was taken to a hospital for observation.
Gabriella’s family, who live in the Monroe area in southeastern Michigan, said Tuesday that they are “forever grateful” to the community for its efforts to find her.
“We would like to express our thanks to God for keeping our sweet Gabriella safe,” Gabriella’s mother Alyssa Bijarro said in a statement posted by WPBN-TV. “Thank you to the countless public safety officers, first responders, and those that helped locate our girl. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we hold Gabriella in our arms.”