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(LOS ANGELES) — A California father and his 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were reunited with relatives Thursday night after spending two days missing in a remote area of Sierra County.

“We are so grateful to everyone who looked for us and I’m so sorry that I caused any worry,” Nicholas Vlahos said after being rescued.

Vlahos, 41, took his two young children Tuesday on what was supposed to be a four-hour off-roading trip after a camping trip with Vlahos’ stepfather and mother, according to local ABC News station KGO-TV.

When Vlahos and his kids did not return by Tuesday night, his relatives called authorities.

Vlahos was stuck inside a heavily-wooded area after the road gave way under his truck while driving. With the woods too thick to signal for help and no cellphone service, Vlahos said he used his camping gear to try to call for help and keep his kids safe.

“We could hear them and we could see them, but they couldn’t hear us. We were just too tiny,” Vlahos said of rescuers. “And we had fires and I had pink blankets up in trees and yellow straps all over, and we left bottles by the river, and we did everything we could.”

It was a flashing, strobing light that Vlahos believes led rescuers to him and his kids. The trio was airlifted to safety and reunited late Thursday with relieved relatives, who met them with hugs and kisses.

“We’re just so excited they’re here. … What a relief, what a relief,” said the kids’ grandfather.

Vlahos was uninjured and his two kids escaped with only bug bites and scratches, according to KGO.

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