COMINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — Michigan State Police say a 2-year-old who disappeared from a northern Michigan campsite showed up on a doorstep more than 24 hours later.
Troopers announced Gabriella Roselynn Vitale was found alive in a tweet posted at 11:39 a.m. Tuesday. She was reported missing around 8:15 a.m. Monday from her family’s campsite in Oscoda County’s Comins Township, located about 35 miles east of Grayling.
State police say Tuesday morning, the girl walked up to a house on Reber Road, less than a half-mile from the campsite.
NBC affiliate WPBN reports Mike Owens of Detroit was on a work retreat at the home when he spotted Gabriella coming up the driveway around 11:30 a.m.
“I looked over my shoulder and saw this girl walking up to the door. I looked again and I think I said, I was so shocked, I said something deadpan like, ‘There is a girl at the door,'” Owens described.
He said he held out his arms to her and she reached out to let him pick her up.
“(I) grabbed her and everybody started crying,” Owens said.
A woman at the house notified authorities.
Gabriella’s father Dominic Vitale, who was working downstate when she went missing, told 9&10 News out of Cadillac that he didn’t know what was happening until a friend contacted him. He rushed up north.
“I was driving toward the site before I got there and I saw an ambulance come down the road and I immediately gassed it, I followed the ambulance. I came to the road, I jumped out the car, and as soon as somebody said they found her, I ran down straight until I found her,” he said. “My knees gave out. It was one of the biggest sighs of relief that I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was something that I can’t really put into words. But the fact that’s she’s OK, it’s just a miracle, it’s a miracle.”
He thanked those who helped find his daughter.
“Thank you guys so much. We really wouldn’t be having Gabriella healthy and in our arms without you guys,” he said. “I’m forever in your guys’ debt.”
Police say Gabriella is well, though she was taken to a hospital for observation.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gabriella’s mother issued the following statement via Munson Healthcare:
“We would like to express our thanks to God for keeping our sweet Gabriella safe. Thank you to the countless public safety officers, first responders, and those that helped locate our girl. We are forever grateful to the Fairview Community, especially the local, state and DNR officers. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we hold Gabriella in our arms,” Alyssa Bijarro said.
Gabriella’s family told authorities they had been camping at the wooded site off Reber Road just west of M-33 since late last week. The Monroe area family said they were packing up and getting ready to leave when they lost track of the girl.
Dozens of people searched more than 600 acres of woods and surrounding ponds, including officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, United States Forestry Service, Michigan State Police and deputies. Police K-9s and a Michigan State Police helicopter were also brought in for the search.