A “resourceful” 10-year-old girl, who authorities say survived alone and lost in the woods of Washington state for over 24 hours after she got separated from her family Sunday, shared how she endured the ordeal.
Shunghla Mashwani disappeared in the Cle Elum River Valley while playing in the woods during a gathering with extended family at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead on Fish Lake Road, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said.
When the family, who came to the U.S. from Afghanistan two years ago, walked back across a footbridge over the Cle Elum River to eat lunch at the trailhead, officials said they realized that Shunghla was gone. About 20 family members began a frantic search for the child, who was reported missing around 2 p.m.
Shunghla told her family and rescuers she was unable to find the footbridge they had crossed on her own after they suddenly became separated, according to the sheriff’s office.
Despite being lost and alone, Shunghla said that she kept calm and tried to find a way through the woods.
“I remember that there was a forest, I was lost and sleepy and I was not scared,” Shunghla told FOX13 Seattle through her uncle Kamaludin Ezhar’s translation.
Shunghla hiked on her own through the dense forest, following the river downstream and spent the cold night between trees, the sheriff’s office said.
“She said she knew it was the right thing to follow the river,” the sheriff’s office said. “She proved an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old.”
The desperate family caught a break in their search for Shunghla after about two hours when a passerby on a UTV offered a satellite phone at his cabin to call for help. Officials said there is no cell signal in the valley.
Deputies and Kittitas County Search and Rescue volunteers began to look for the 10-year-old through the steep, rugged and remote terrain with dense trees and undergrowth.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, two volunteers found Shunghla alive with only minor scrapes about 1½ miles from where she was last seen.
She was taken upstream on an inflatable watercraft and reunited with her family.
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