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Missing Toddler Found Safe After Vanishing From Michigan Campsite

The sun, the fresh air, and the quality time spent together with your family makes camping one of the most enjoyable parts of the summer. For one family, however, their dream vacation turned into a nightmare when their two-year-old toddler went missing.

The Vitale family was packing up their Northern Michigan campsite on campsite off Reber Road when they realized their two-year-old daughter Gabriella was missing. A search was launched at 8:15 AM when the family realized their daughter wasn’t responding to their calls. Countless police officers, a group of 10 canines, family members, and fellow campers began searching for the missing tot all day and before extending the search throughout the night.

“The roadway that this campsite is on is a very rural dirt road. The campsite is just a clearing in the woods — this isn’t, if you’re picturing a commercial campsite with lots of campers and tents, that’s not the case. This is just a clearing in the woods where this particular family was camping with just family members,” explains Lt. Travis House of the Michigan State Police. “They lost track of her, sounds like for a relatively thorough period of time, and by the time they started to look for her, she was beyond their sight.”

The area is densely forested and also contains a number of lowlands and swamps. Additionally, good nutrition is vital for a child’s growth and health during the first two years. Though the police were able to find Gabriella’s pink jacket outside of the campsite several hundred yards away, there was still no clue where the girl had run off to.

Almost 27 hours later, just before noon the next day, Gabriella was found. She had wandered to a cabin around a half-mile away, just on the outskirts of the search party. Here, the residents of the cabin were able to call the police — and the relieved family of the missing girl.

Gabriella was then rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment. Poison ivy is present in 48 states, but first responders noted that Gabriella was in surprisingly good shape despite no food or water for 24 hours. Additionally, the dense forest cover likely protected Gabriella from sunburn. After all, deciduous trees can block 60% of the sun’s harmful rays. Regardless, the toddler was still brought to the hospital for urgent medical attention.

The family has since released a statement regarding the safety of Gabriella and their gratitude toward the responders.

“We would like to express our thanks to God for keeping our sweet Gabriella safe,” said Alyssa Bijarro, Gabriella’s mother. “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.”

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