Two Florida siblings who disappeared Sunday while playing in their front yard were found alive Tuesday in the woods near their home in what rescuers are calling a “Christmas miracle.”
“It’s a miracle -- Christmas miracle. And it’s a blessing. A lot of hard work been done and that’s all I want to say. Thank God for it," Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Ellis Burns told WJXT at the scene.
Investigators believe Braxton Williams, 6, and his 5-year-old sister Bri’ya wandered away from the family’s home at the Paradise Village mobile home park Sunday around 11:30 a.m. The pair got lost in the woods for days, eventually making their way to a dilapidated pump house, according to First Coast News.
Just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday rescuers discovered the missing children—who were thirsty and craving cheese pizza—after a searcher heard a child’s voice in the woods.
"As far as their conditions go, they're lively and talkative and asked for a cheese pizza that we quickly delivered to them," Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.
The children suffered only minor scrapes and bruises and aside from being slightly dehydrated appeared to be in “good shape,” Williams said.
He called the rescue the “best outcome” investigators could have hoped for.
"That was the best-case scenario for us and it was the one that we put the most time and effort into," he said, according to Fox News.
The children’s grandmother, Roxanne Lloyd, said the family is overjoyed the children were found safe.
“I’m very excited. I’m so glad. This is the best news ever. We got our babies back. I never gave up. My son never gave up. We kept the faith and I thank God for that," she said Tuesday, according to WJXT. She also thanked the countless rescuers who helped search for the missing children.
The children’s father Brian Williams and his wife were reunited with them at an area hospital, where the children were taken for evaluation.
“God is good!,” he told First Coast News. “I feel like I got the life put back into me. This gives me a reason to keep going.”
Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers, who helped in the search effort, called the rescue the “greatest day” for the city.
“That family is fixing to have a wonderful Christmas,” he said. “They just got the best Christmas present they’ll ever get in their entire life.”
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