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A two-year-old, accompanied by her family’s two dogs, walked over three miles barefoot and was eventually found peacefully asleep deep within a wooded trail in Michigan with one of the dogs as a makeshift pillow.
The incident prompted a call to troopers around 8 p.m. on a Wednesday in rural Faithorn, Michigan, after Thea Chase had wandered away from her home, as shared by Michigan State Police Lt. Mark Giannunzio during a conversation with CNN.
A 2-year-old girl who walked barefoot more than three miles with her family’s two dogs was found sleeping off a wooded Michigan trail using the smaller dog as a pillow.
— CNN (@CNN) September 24, 2023
Thea’s mother, Brooke Chase, revealed that a maternal instinct led her to check on her daughter, who had been playing in the yard. Thea’s uncle had advised the toddler to go inside due to her lack of footwear. Upon realizing that Thea was no longer inside the house, panic set in and a frantic search ensued. After approximately 20 minutes of searching, both Chase and her brother-in-law contacted Chase’s husband and the police for assistance.
Lt. Giannunzio emphasized the urgency of such cases, stating, “When we get a call like that, everything else stops.” Michigan State Police swiftly mobilized, dispatching drones, search-and-rescue teams, and canine units. Simultaneously, members of the tight-knit community banded together to form their own search party, driven by the belief that the child was in the densely forested area surrounding her home.
Approximately four hours after the initial call, a family friend, who had been scouring the area on an all-terrain vehicle, stumbled upon the Chase family’s Rottweiler, Buddy. The dog’s enthusiastic barking signaled a breakthrough in the search. A short distance from the trail, the astonishing discovery was made: Thea was asleep on the ground, her head resting atop Hartley, the family’s English Springer Spaniel. When the ATV approached, an attempt to wake the toddler was met with a protective growl from the smaller dog, Hartley. Brooke Chase affectionately commented, “She has those dogs wrapped around her finger.”
During the anxious hours of the search, Chase admitted to feeling like she was in a daze. While she remained at home with Thea’s younger brother, troopers diligently combed through the house multiple times, providing comfort to the distressed mother. However, when Thea was finally brought home on the back of the ATV, her laughter and cheerful greeting of “Hi, Mommy” brought immeasurable relief to the entire family.