4-Year-Old Girl Who Went Missing With Her Dog Is Found Alive 2 Days Later in the Woods

Evelyn Sides
WSFA/Facebook; Amanda Sides/Facebook

Every parent’s nightmare is something happening to their child, and for one family, that fear became a reality. Evelyn Sides, who goes by the nickname Vadie, was walking her dog Lucy, along with a 70-year-old caretaker, around 2:30 in the afternoon Wednesday when she went missing in the woods near Loachapoka, Alabama.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office representative Andrew Peacock, told Al.com that Evelyn “essentially just disappeared” and said the 4-year-old girl was at a location that she was familiar with but was not near her home. Shortly after her disappearance, hundreds of law enforcement officers from different agencies were looking for any signs or clues for her whereabouts. "By the time everyone arrived, we were fighting darkness,’’ Peacock said.

  • The search for the little girl continued for two days, and the officers used everything at their disposal to try and find her, including horses.

    “They are searching very thoroughly,’’ Peacock said. “We will continue to search until we find her.” On Friday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office put a call out for additional volunteers, and more than 400 people responded to that call. With more people looking in the area where Vadie was last seen, the volunteers searched the “dense wooded terrain.”

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  • Vadie was found by a volunteer searcher Friday afternoon, along with her dog, less than a mile away from where she went missing.

    Thankfully, Vadie was unharmed when she was found. The volunteers gave her water, a banana, snacks, and Gatorade, according to AI.com.

    She was “a little bit dehydrated but not that much worse for the wear,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. “She was responsive and answering questions,’’ he added. “She was animated and talkative and chowing down the last time I saw her in the back of the ambulance.”

  • According to Vadie, she and her dog Lucy got separated at one point but were able to find each other.

    Vadie’s mom, Amanda Sides, posted a video of Vadie on Facebook, who shared her side of the story. “I slided, slided down a waterfall … I was brave not to go in,” although the dog ran away, the little girl said. “I found her because I was going the right direction, because I could smell. I slept by a road one, the first night, and … and the second night I slept where they found me.”

  • The grateful mom shared her thanks on Facebook for everyone who worked hard to bring Vadie home safely.

    I do not have enough words to express the proper gratitude to all of our community that came out to help us find this little angel,” she wrote. "I will probably never be able to thank you all enough. To all of the volunteers who came out in the middle of a global pandemic to traipse around in the woods, sometimes into the early morning hours, God Bless you all. Anyone I've forgotten just know that you are loved and we are incredibly grateful.”

  • Vadie was taken by ambulance to the hospital to ensure she was indeed healthy. 

    “I understand everything looks great considering her circumstances,’’ Jones said. “Tough little girl.”

    He told AI.com that he and his team were aware that this story had the potential to turn a different way. “Having been in this business for a long time, that’s always in the back of your mind that things may not end well,’’ he said. “Obviously, the longer period of time that goes by, the more that creeps into your thoughts.

    “But we were bound and determined that we were not leaving the area until we found that little girl. There’s no doubt in my mind that all the prayers these people were putting up were answered here this afternoon. That’s what it is, an answered prayer.”

    Vadie’s mom also gave an update on how the little girl was doing when she arrived at the hospital, and thankfully, she was just fine.

    “Vadie is still recovering in the hospital, but she is doing very well” she said. “She asked me to record her telling her story.”