Trail of Granola Bar Wrappers Led Rescuers to 2 Missing Girls Lost for 44 Hours

ABC13 Houston/YouTube

The Carrico sisters stand outside prior to going missing, smiling while holding on to each other.
ABC13 Houston/YouTube

One family's 44-hour-long nightmare has finally ended, after their two little girls went missing on Friday afternoon without a trace. Rescuers found 8-year-old Leia Carrico and her 5-year-old sister, Caroline, Sunday morning, according to ABC News, just 1.4 miles from their home in Humboldt County in Northern California.

  • The girls were reportedly following deer tracks Friday when they got lost and couldn't find their way back once the sun set.

    Their mother, Misty Carrico, later told investigators that the girls had both asked to go for a walk on Friday afternoon and were told no. But when her back was turned, the girls slipped away. 

    Misty realized they were missing around 3 p.m., and understandably panic-stricken, set out on foot with neighbors to look for them. Two hours later, after their search turned fruitless, Misty called the police, who then launched a full-scale search operation. 

    More than 170 personnel from 21 different law enforcement and military agencies set off in search for the girls -- including two helicopter crews and 12 different K-9 units, according to Yahoo News.

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  • Rescuers were eventually able to find the girls by following boot prints and a trail of granola wrappers found in the woods.

    Incredibly, the girls survived the nearly two-day ordeal by staying right where they were, huddling together for warmth, and drinking fresh water they found on Huckleberry leaves. 

    And if you're wondering how girls of just 5 and 8 could have such excellent survival skills, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal shared at a press conference Sunday that they have their 4-H club to thank for that. The girls were bought basic survival training skills, which definitely came in handy.

    The fact that they were eating granola bars around the time of their disappearance also was fortunate.

    "We found some clues during the day that made us change our direction," said Mike Fridley of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, according to ABC13 Houston. "We found granola bar wrappers and were able to confirm with the mom that yes those were granola bars that were bought in the last few days. The wrappers showed what direction they went in."

  • When the girls were finally found, rescuers were amazed they were in such good condition, considering how long they'd been missing.

    "They were safe and sound, still ambulatory, in good spirits, no injuries," Honsal said at a press conference. "These girls definitely have a survival story to tell."

    They sure do.

  • After waiting with bated breath for their safe return, the girls' community was overjoyed to hear they were found alive.

    "Tears beyond joy!" wrote one local resident on a Facebook post by the Humboldt County Police Department. "I’m so proud of our community the past two days [and] the outpouring support from strangers to this family. Those of us with children are holding them extra tight right now ... as a parent this could have been any of us!"

    Hundreds of others were quick to applaud the girls for their survival skills and hail the first responders who found them as heroes.

    "Volunteer Angels is what they are," wrote another user. "Thank you for finding these babies."

  • "We could not have had a better outcome than we've had this morning," Honsal said before news cameras Sunday. "It's an absolute miracle."

    It certainly is.

    But perhaps most incredible of all is that the girls were found just hours before a rainstorm was scheduled to hit the wooded area where they were seeking refuge.

    Now, the girls are safely back at home where they belong -- and, as many noted, definitely have an incredible story of survival to tell.