The children had gone missing from their front yard in Jacksonville, Florida and were found after rescuers heard their voices in the wooded area nearby.
A lot like Hansel and Gretel did in the eponymous fairytale, two children walked into the woods and got lost, but came back out alive and safe thanks to their presence of mind. The two children who were siblings — a sister and brother — had been missing for 48 hours in Jacksonville, Florida after being seen near their home for the last time.
Braxton Williams, 6, and his sister Bri'ya Williams, 5, had been missing since December 15 and were found two days later, on December 17. They went missing from their Whitehouse mobile home community on Jacksonville’s Westside, according to ClickOrlando. The siblings wandered off on their own and weren't taken by anyone, the Sheriff’s Office believes, according to CNN.
An Amber alert had been issued for the missing children after their family couldn't find them and the search went on for 48 hours. Scores of law enforcement officers, K9s, air units, drones, and dive teams had searched for the children. Around 19 rescuers with the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department and Sheriff’s Office found them almost 400 meters away from their mobile home.
I'm so glad to see Bri'ya & Braxton's sweet faces! A few bumps and bruises but safe and happy -- after more spending days missing in the woods! Amazing work by all the rescuers determined to find them! @ActionNewsJax @JSOPIO @JFRDJAX https://t.co/skuJKq6epe— Tenikka Smith Hughes (@TenikkaANjax) December 18, 2019
Jacksonville Sheriff public information officer Christian Hancock had said on December 15 that the rescue operation included surrounding areas, ponds, trashcans. "We're searching everything. Again we're searching for these kids and we aim to find them," Hancock had told reporters on Sunday.
"We thank the public. We thank everybody...We didn't think it would be us. But that means it could be anybody. Watch your babies and hug them." - Familly of Bri'ya & Braxton Williams @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews pic.twitter.com/jkxEzCBPuB— Tenikka Smith Hughes (@TenikkaANjax) December 17, 2019
The rescuers had heard their voices and followed it before finding them in a dense, swampy area. The children had shown presence of mind and taken shelter in a dilapidated pump house. "They are lively and talkative, and asked for a cheese pizza," Williams said, according to CNN. Deputies and firefighters made sure that the kids had some pizza to cheer them up.
Later, they were taken to the hospital for observation as they were "a little dehydrated." They also had some bruises. A video of the children with the first responders taking them to a hospital was shared on social media. Rescuers called it a "Christmas miracle." Williams said they appeared to be in good health even though they were lost and alone in the woods for 48 hours.
Rescuers kneeled and prayed after finding the two siblings alive in Jacksonville. "We're incredibly grateful for the outcome we have today," Williams said in a press conference. "It was the best outcome that we hoped for," Sheriff Mike Williams said, according to Fox13.
The Williams family thanked everyone for finding their children and lending support in their time of need. "We thank the public. We thank everybody...We didn't think it would be us. But that means it could be anybody. Watch your babies and hug them," they said, according to ActionNews. "It's a Christmas miracle and it's a blessing," a sheriff's investigator said, according to Fox News. "A lot of hard work had been done and thank God for it," they said.