2-Year-Old With Autism Goes Missing During Camping Trip & Survives Night in Woods

Gabriella Roselynn Vitale
MSPNorthernMI/Twitter

Police have found a 2-year-old girl who went missing while on a camping trip with her family. Gabriella Roselynn Vitale's family said she wandered off into the woods while they were packing up from their vacation in Oscoda County, Michigan. Police swiftly launched a huge search party to find the young girl who reportedly also has autism. She was found alive and well the next day.

  • The toddler was reported missing on Monday morning as the family was trying to pack up their belongings to leave their campsite after a family getaway. 

    According to a news release published by the Oscoda County Sheriff's Office on July 15, they received a call from the girl's family at about 8:15 a.m. "Deputies were sent to a wooded area about 3/4 mile west of M-33 on Reber Road in Comins Township, where they met with the child's family," the statement read.

    The family, which is from the Monroe area, told police they had been camping since late last week, but were trying to pack up and leave the grounds Monday morning when they lost track of their 2-year-old, Gabriella.

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  • Police then sprung into action and launched a search party for the young child.

    Using the police K-9 team and a police helicopter to scan the area, police searched for the girl who was last reported wearing a pink zip-up coat, a gray shirt, pink bottoms, and tennis shoes. 

    Later that day, police reported on Twitter that the girl's jacket had been found "several hundred yards south east of where she went missing." They also urged citizens not to move any evidence of the girl, even if they wanted to report it. "If you find clothing, please don’t touch (to keep your scent off)," the tweet added.

    In a follow-up tweet, police told the public that "the best thing to do if you find something is to note the location and back out. This will keep the area as fresh as possible for our canine helpers."

    ABC News noted that the search team had grown to include "50 searchers and 10 canines." A large team to find the little one. 

    And as the search continued into the night, the police Twitter account also noted that they had received a large number of volunteers who were willing to help find the little girl. "Plans are being made for overnight and first thing in the morning," a tweet read. "Keep Gabriella and her family in your thoughts as the search continues."

  • Early Tuesday morning, there was a huge break in the case. Gabriella has been found alive and well.

    Early this morning, police tweeted that the toddler had been found on July 16. "Great news!!! Gabriella has been found alive."

    ABC News reported the little girl walked up to a residence in the area, and that a resident then called police. Police said they were taking Gabriella to hospital to get her checked out, but that she appeared to be "alive, well, and healthy."

    "Luckily there was a resident home at that residence at the time that she arrived," Michigan State Police Lt. Travis House said. "The resident had been contacted by us earlier, so she knew that Gabriella had been missing and she called."

    The girl has since been reunited with her mother and it was noted that she had probably been without water for "about 24 hours."

    "She is missing her bottoms and her shoes, but seems relatively unfazed for a 2-year-old who has been in the woods that long," House added.

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