(NEW YORK) — Four Florida children are sharing their story of survival after they were lost for hours in a dark Florida forest.
Christine Mills went bike riding with her two teenage brothers and 11-year-old sister Wednesday in Little Big Econ State Forest, which covers more than 5,000 acres. Flood waters from recent rains left their trail blocked, forcing them off the bike path.
“We found like a tiny island that we could just sit on,” Christine Mills, 13, said.
With darkness setting in and temperatures dropping, the children began swimming though a nearby river, holding onto each other. Mills prayed that she and her siblings would be rescued.
“When I was wading, it was waist-deep on me, and I was like, ‘OK, we’re not going to make it,’” she said.
They managed to call their father, Buddy Mills, a firefighter.
But even he couldn’t save the children alone. The water was too deep.
“A lot of it I went through was over my head, because once I heard them, I went straight to them,” Buddy Mills said.
Mills was eventually able to call for backup and local authorities launched a helicopter. The siblings were seen 2 miles into the forest. Firefighters made their own trail with a bulldozer, then used ATVs to reach them.
The family is thankful that everyone is OK.
“I just appreciate their efforts,” Buddy Mills said after the rescue, “what they had to go through to get to us.”
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