BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Amber Smith's parents stood out in front of a Big Rapids hospital Wednesday afternoon, grateful that a 24-hour wait ended with their little girl being found safe after being lost in the woods.
"Very stressful. You got your mind going, racing, didn't know whether or not she was going to be alive or dead. You have that stuff going through your mind," mother Diane Smith said.
Amber Smith, 2, wandered away from her home on the edge of the Manistee National Forest around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, triggering a massive search. There was no sign of her.
Overnight, temperatures in the area dropped to around 43 degrees as Amber was in the woods. She wore only a tank top -- no diaper, pants, shoes or socks.
Then, around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer spotted Amber about 1.75 miles from her home.
"I was surprised to see her. It was a double-take situation," DNR Conservation Officer Jeff Ginn told 24 Hour News 8. "I just picked her up and hugged her and ran to the road and gave her to the other officers."
And, for the most part, she was fine. She was taken to a hospital in Big Rapids to be checked out.
"A lot of scratches and stuff, but well," Diane Smith said.
"She was in shock. She was thirsty," Amber's father Dale Smith said.
"Best day of our life. Can't ask for more," Diane added.
They said it felt as much as miracle as it did a rescue.
"I'm just happy that she's alive. Can't ask for more except for God upstairs that brought her home to us," Diane said. "We'd like to thank all the volunteers, all the police officers that were involved in this, finding our little girl alive and well. And she's doing good right now. Very tired, but good."
Her parents say Amber is fine and wanted hot chocolate.
She is expected to be released from the hospital Thursday.
A donation account has been set up to help the family with its search to find a missing loved one.
Wind chills will be in the single figures Thursday, with snowfall totals in the 1- to 3-inch range.
The passenger in a pickup truck that slid off U.S. 31 and rolled over told 24 Hour News 8 that watching the video of the crash is "heart-wrenching."