Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 4, 2012

Missing 3-year-old girls home safe

MOODYS — Two 3-year-old girls were found safe Friday afternoon after teams of law enforcement officers, fire fighters and volunteers searched for several hours in an area north of Tahlequah.

Cherokee County sheriff’s deputy Stephanie Stephens said both girls wandered away from their aunt’s home in the Moodys area. They were reported missing at around noon Friday, and by 3 p.m., both had been found.

“About an hour after we got the call, one little girl was found but the other one wasn’t,” said Stephens.

The first girl was found not too far from where she belonged, Stephens said.

Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies worked with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Northeastern State University police, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and fire departments from Gideon, Lowrey and Woodall, as well as local volunteers, including Pam Hixon, who brought her search-and-rescue canine to help. The OHP also put a plane in the air to aid in the search efforts.

Special Agent in Charge Danny Tanner, of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, said the marshals assembled a SWAT team and took four-wheelers and ATVs to help with the search. Tanner said he took a team into a wooded area and found the second girl at about 2:45 p.m. She was lying on the ground in a wooded area, a half-mile to a mile from where she’d wandered off. She was scratched up and scared, but otherwise OK, he said.

“I’m assuming she just got tired and laid down and went to sleep,” said Tanner. “I called to her, she looked up off the ground. I told her we were the police and we were going to take her home. She got up and started running to me, crying. I just gave her a hug and took her back.”

Tanner, who is also an EMT with the Jay Fire Department, said he checked the girl over and she appeared to be fine, but an ambulance was also called to the scene to check her.

Stephens said the response from local agencies and residents was important in locating the girls before they had suffered any serious injuries.

“We appreciate all of the agencies and residents who helped us,” said Stephens.

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