Leia and Caroline Carrico are two sisters who were missing for 44 hours in a wooded area near their family’s Benbow, California home.
After a massive search effort, the girls were thankfully found unharmed in the woods. They spent 44 hours in the wilderness and were cold and dehydrated when discovered but were otherwise OK. Sheriff’s officials say it was a “survival story,” and the girls were trained by 4-H, which they believe played a part in the girls surviving in the outdoors for several days.
“Leia and Caroline Carrico found alive and well by a Piercy Volunteer Fire search team approximately 1.4 miles south of their residence near Richardson’s Grove. Here’s a first look from the scene where first responders located the girls,” sheriff’s officials announced. They released this photo:
“This is what community is all about,” said the sheriff.
The girls are ages 5 and 8. Authorities said they’ve seen no indication of foul play, but they said initially they aren’t ruling anything out. Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal called the family “fully cooperative.” A fire chief and firefighter found the girls.
Authorities think the girls wandered into the woods on their own. The sheriff called it a group effort “to find these missing girls” in an area full of “rugged terrain.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff’s Office Labeled the Rescuers Heroes
The Sheriff’s Department shared a photo of the fire officials who discovered the girls and wrote:
“Here’s a look at the two HEROES who located Leia and Caroline. We are so thankful for Delbert Chumley and Abram Hill from Piercy Volunteer Fire for assisting in this 44-hour search. We are so grateful for the support provided by all of our assisting agencies and over 210 searchers! We received several requests from community members to help in the ground search this weekend. For those of you who asked, please consider joining our Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse so that you too can help on our next search. This is a volunteer posse that is deployed to all of our local (and many out of the area) search and rescue operations. Find out how to join here: http://www.humboldtsar.com.”
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office “is searching for two missing girls who are believed to have walked away from their home,” the office wrote in a statement before the girls were located.
“Caroline Carrico, age 5, and Leia Carrico, age 8, were last seen at approximately 2:30 p.m. on March 1, 2019, outside of their residence, located on the 3000 block of Twin Trees Road in Benbow. The girls are believed to have walked off into the wooded area nearby their home.”
Continued sheriff’s officials, “The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the girl’s disappearance at about 6 p.m. on March 1. Sheriff’s Special Services deputies, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue and CAL FIRE crews responded and conducted an initial search of the area throughout the night.”
2. Granola Bar Wrappers Provided a Clue About the Girls’ Whereabouts
The Sheriff of Humboldt County William Honsal held a press conference on the missing girls. “We are here today because of two missing girls,” he said. “These are two young girls that grew up in this area, outside Benbow, California. They were last seen at their residence.”
The girls were found 1.4 miles southeast of their Benbow home, the Sheriff’s Department says.
Authorities have found signs of the girls.
“We found some clues. We found some granola bar wrappers, and we confirmed with the mom” that they were wrappers of granola bars she purchased, said Lt. Mike Fridley of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department. They found boot prints.
“We have a lot of clues as to the direction they went,” said Fridley, adding that authorities remain positive that they will be able to figure out where the girls are at.
“It’s a chess game,” he said, of trying to figure out where the girls are at. He said people showed up at the command post with food, which authorities appreciated. But he stressed that authorities do not need volunteer searchers at this time.
3. The Terrain Was Described as Hilly & Difficult
It was not an easy search.
“Search crews continue to search… March 2, for the two girls,” sheriff’s officials wrote. “The search area consists of steep, heavily wooded terrain.”
The sheriff said that the search is compounded by locked gates leading to some areas and a “very rural area.” A Blackhawk helicopter was doing an aerial search.
Caroline Rose Carrico, age 5, is described as “a white female, 3 feet 6 inches tall, 40 pounds, with hazel eyes and blonde hair with bright purple streaks. She was last seen wearing a maroon rain jacket with white horses, blue jeans and pink boots.”
Leia Dorice Carrico, age 8, “is described as a white female, 4 feet 2 inches tall, 85 pounds, with hazel eyes and blonde hair, with a large freckle on her left cheek. She was last seen wearing a dark gray hooded long sleeve shirt and purple rain boots.”
4. The Sheriff Said the Girls’ Mother Told Them They Couldn’t Go For a Walk
The sheriff said the two sisters asked to go for a walk. The mother said no. She later noticed the girls were missing. She conducted her own search with neighbors, and they eventually called authorities to report the girls missing.
A multi-agency search then ignited. In the first night, “we covered as much ground as we could.” They restarted the search the next morning at dawn. At one point, 10 search teams were involved. He said the parents were very involved in the search.
“Everything is on the table. We are looking at all possibilities,” said the sheriff. He said they want to make sure they “rule out any criminal activity.”
5. Sheriff’s Officials Asked Citizens Not to Use Drones
In an update, sheriff’s officials asked citizens not to use drones for their own searches.
“The search area is closed to unauthorized aircraft including citizen drones. Citizen drones are making it dangerous for our assisting helicopters to fly,” they wrote in a statement.
“Please do not operate a drone in the search area. We are thankful for the community’s willingness to help, but we need to make sure our pilots can conduct search operations safely. Thank you for your support as this search continues. We have over 100 personnel from across the state assisting in this search, including multiple air resources, ground teams, and canine teams.”
Multiple agencies are involved in the search for the girls. “All available resources are being utilized by searching personnel. Through the collaborated efforts of all the involved agencies we are working to resolve this incident as quickly and safely as possible. Rescue personnel will be searching the immediate and surrounding areas and constantly evaluating the conditions during the search efforts,” sheriff’s officials wrote.
“The public is advised to please avoid the area while search teams are working unless given permission by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. A public tip line has been established for any information regarding the possible whereabouts of Caroline and Leia Carrico at (707) 441-5000.”