It was the best outcome for a search and rescue involving a 10-year-old girl Tuesday night in Salem Township.
A picture captured by first responders afterwards showed a warm embrace between the missing girl and one of the bloodhounds who helped rescue her. Forbes Road Fire Chief Bob Rosatti described it as a “perfect picture to a perfect ending.”
”She was walking up to us and just drawn to the dog, and I said, ‘Do you want to pet the dog?’ And she knelt down and just went right to the dog,” Lou Battistella said.
First responders scoured the area of Story Road in Salem Township for hours Tuesday.They were looking for any signs of the girl, who walked away from her home without shoes on.
She was described as autistic and hard of hearing, but a footprint in the mud helped lead crews in a good direction.
”We’re figuring this girl can’t go very far, you know. How far can you walk in your bare feet? Well, evidently she proved us wrong, because she walked quite a ways in her bare feet,” Rosatti said.
Greensburg’s bloodhound team was called in and took a sniff of her shoes and started tracking her scent.
”There was pair of flip flops on the back porch,” handler David Jackson said. “I scented off the flip flops and got halfway into the woods and saw a little girl’s footprints.”
”We actually had, at one time, three dogs out on the path, and they all converged on the same area,” Battistella said.
The dogs were right on her trail.
With eyes from the aviation unit above, they spotted her.
Two and a half miles and about five hours later, that girl was found safe and sound.
She was returned home to her family with some love from new friends.
”If it wouldn’t have been for such great teamwork with the fire departments and firemen and all the other support personnel, … the outcome could’ve been totally different,” Battistella said.
”What makes everything function so well is the way everybody pulls together in times like this,” Rosatti said.
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