BARTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Less than 24 hours after an Amber Alert was issued for Amber Rose Smith, the 2-year-old was found safe in Newaygo County's Barton Township.
Amber was found at 1:40 p.m.Wednesday afternoon by conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, about 1.75 miles southeast of her home near 12 Mile Road and Cedar Avenue. Her only injuries were minor scrapes and bruises.
The conservation officers who found her said she was standing by a two track, scared and crying.
"I was surprised to see her. It was a double-take situation," DNR Conservation Officer Jeff Ginn said. "I just picked her up and hugged her and ran to the road and gave her to the other officers."
By the time she was carried from a DNR vehicle to an ambulance to get checked out, witnesses said she was calm and no longer crying.
Witnesses also said she looked "good" and was "looking around" before she was taken to a hospital in Big Rapids to be examined.
At the hospital, Amber's parents spoke to the media about the ordeal. They said they wondered if their daughter would be found alive, and thanked God and all the people who came out to help look for Amber.
Amber was reported missing after she wandered away from her home around Tuesday afternoon. Her parents said she had wandered off in the past.
Dale Smith, Amber’s father, told 24 Hour News 8 that she opened the front door of their home by herself, and that he noticed she was missing around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"I went looking everywhere I could think -- up to the neighbor's house, all around the properties, yelling for her," Smith said.
She didn't answer and didn't show up at their house, so he called 911 around 2 p.m.
Authorities at the scene late Tuesday said they pushed to get an Amber Alert issued, despite the fact that this case does not meet specific criteria necessary for an Alert, because they hope to get more exposure for the search.
Wednesday, search efforts for Amber continued to grow as law enforcement, some 300 volunteers, a helicopter and team of police dogs searching the 1-mile radius around her home.
Searchers were elated when they learned Amber was found.
"When you've got seven or eight grown males that have seen many things in their lives and through their job slapping high fives and shedding a tears, I'd say that has the definition of a miracle," DNR Conservation Officer Michael Wells, who was searching with Conservation Officer Ginn, said.
Detectives who interviewed Amber after she was found said she didn't say much. Her vocabulary is limited and the detectives were strangers.
The girl's parents were also interviewed by detectives Wednesday. Authorities still aren't calling the situation suspicious. However, the investigation continues to confirm that no crime was committed and that Amber wasn't left in the woods near where she was found.
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