Update: Rescue teams safely located Evelyn Vadie in Lee County, Alabama late Friday afternoon, approximately a mile away from where she was reported missing, officials said. Authorities confirmed the four-year-old is alive and in stable condition. Her dog was also reportedly sighted nearby, according to investigators. “There will be more information released as we gather details on her condition,” Lee County Sheriff’s Office said in a brief statement. Images of Vadie, who appears to be in good spirits, are now circulating on social media.
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Frantic search efforts are currently underway to locate a 4-year-old toddler who reportedly wandered into a heavily wooded area with her dog in rural Alabama on Wednesday.
Evelyn Vadie was playing with a caretaker and dog at a home near Loachapoka, Alabama when the toddler and her dog supposedly darted into a dense patch of forest surrounding the property, authorities said. She was last seen around 2:45 p.m. on March 25 near the 5000 block of Lee Road 66, not far from the small southern community.
Foul play isn’t currently suspected in her disappearance.
“Like 4-year-olds — like energetic kids can do — she got away into the terrain out there,” Drew Peacock, a spokesperson for Lee County Sheriff’s Office, told Oxygen.com on Friday. “She got away fairly quickly and has not been seen since.”
The surrounding property where Vaide vanished from is carpeted by thick brush, which has complicated search efforts, law enforcement said.
“Truckloads” of law enforcement officers from police agencies across the state, as well as several volunteers, have been concentrated near the property since the toddler vanished earlier this week, Peacock stated.
He estimated between 300-400 people were actively searching for the 4-year-old while helicopters and drones scoured the sky from above: "We have helicopters in the air with infrared cameras searching for any sort of heat signal and we have drones that also are equipped with the same type of technology. "
“It was a lot of people — as far as you could see,” Peacock described. “There has been a tremendous outpouring for help, not only for law enforcement but from the community and outside the community. We’ve had calls as far away as Louisiana offering to come help.”
Search efforts, however, have largely been fruitless. Investigators descended on the area again on Friday.
“We haven’t ruled out anything with this case, in terms of if she’s wandered off, if she might be with somebody,” Peacock explained.
Vadie, who has red hair, is approximately 3 feet tall and weighs 40 pounds. She was last seen wearing a blue print dress that has green floral patterning, according to law enforcement. Authorities believe the girl’s hound dog, which is reddish in color and has a collar, may be with her.
But investigators have encountered some positive breaks. Footprints belonging to the girl and dog were supposedly spotted by search teams.
“There have been signs of both the dog and the girl,” Peacock explained.
The backwoods surrounding the property where Vadie disappeared from is desolate, rugged, and has presented a number of logistical challenges for search and rescue teams. Peacock explained the surrounding area is populated by shallow creeks, hills, and forest.
“It’s very wooded,” the sheriff’s spokesperson said. “It’s very isolated. [There’s] not a whole lot of houses out there. You may encounter a hunting cabin here or there but it may not be lived in full-time.”
It’s also trafficked by hunters, kayakers, ATV, horseback riders, and wildlife, Peacock said.
“There’s deer, wild hogs, snakes,” Peacock stated.
Peacock encouraged any willing volunteers wishing to assist on the search to rendezvous at the volunteer coordination point at Roxanna Methodist Church at 2911 Lee Road 71, Camp Hill, Alabama, near the town of Waverly. Peacock said active COVID-19 protocols were in place during rescue efforts.
Authorities are urging anyone with information related to Vadie’s whereabouts to contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at 334-749-5651.
“If anybody thinks that they have information, our lines are open,” Peacock added.
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