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 Zoe Dorsey (4) 3/17/10 Brookings, OR

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PostSubject: Zoe Dorsey (4) 3/17/10 Brookings, OR   Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:14 pm

Girl, 4, found alive
Written by Scott Graves and Arwyn Rice,
WesCom News Service
March 18, 2010
Child found in ravine 3 miles from her home

Zoe DorseyFour-year-old Zoey Dorsey, missing in the mountains near Brookings for more than 24 hours, was found alive in a ravine more than three miles from her home just before dark Thursday, authorities said.

“She has a very low core body temperature; if she had stayed out there another night she wouldn’t have survived,” said Curry County Sheriff John Bishop at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Zoey also had many scratches and was extremely dirty, but she was expected to survive her case of mild hypothermia, Bishop said.

She was found at about 7:30 p.m. by volunteer searcher Donald Hodges, who was walking on a logging road just outside the search perimeter, Bishop said.

Hodges spotted her in a ravine, called for help and waited beside her, Bishop said.

Because of her tenuous condition, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter lowered a crew member into the ravine and hoisted Zoey up in a basket and rushed her to a waiting ambulance at Brookings Airport.

She was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital about 8 p.m.

Zoey had been missing since 3 p.m. Wednesday, when her parents called 911. Multiple helicopters and an army of search and rescue workers scoured the rugged terrain around the girl’s Mountain Drive home, located on a mountainside about two miles up the Chetco River from Brookings.

The search continued Thursday, and in the afternoon authorities invited citizens to join the effort. By 5:30 p.m. dozens of volunteers had gathered near the base of Mountain Drive and spread out across the heavily forested mountain.

At one point, a local Civil Air Patrol plane circled the search area using a loudspeaker to broadcast a recording of Zoey’s grandmother’s voice saying, “Come out into the open so we can see you ... you haven’t done anything wrong ... Mommy and Daddy miss you.”

Authorities had been considering three possibilities, Sheriff Bishop said at a Thursday news conference hours before Zoey was found: that she had been taken by a mountain lion, kidnapped or that she simply walked away from her home.

“There is no evidence of an abduction,” Bishop said at the noon news conference.

The Dorsey home is located at the end of a long, winding country road with no secondary access.

Small children can go a long way in a hurry, he said. When they find themselves lost or in trouble, they often hide and will not come out for searchers.

“There were reports of a large male mountain lion in the area three days ago,” Bishop said during the news conference.

A trapper was brought in on Wednesday, and his dogs, trained to track lions, indicated that at least one had been in the area of the Dorsey home, but there was no way to tell if the cougar had been there a day ago, or a week ago.

Early Thursday, the Coast Guard used a helicopter with a powerful spotlight to assist specially trained night search teams.

A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter arrived at 7:30 a.m. and searched the area around the family home using Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR), which enables helicopter crews to see heat signatures of living things against the cooler earthen background. While several small animals were seen, no human heat signature was found.

Once the scan was complete, Bishop said ground crews began a line search, in which they walk forward together, flagging anything they find on the ground.

Three other helicopters assisted ground crews, while two additional helicopters were on standby.

When Zoey had last been seen at her home at 3 p.m. Wednesday, she was wearing a white “Princess and the Frog” shirt, blue pants and “light-up” tennis shoes.

Searchers had hoped that during the night they would spot Zoey’s shoes, which have flashing lights on them. No lights were seen.

Zoey’s mother, Brooke, had picked her up Wednesday from the Head Start program at Upper Chetco School, four miles east of Brookings on North Bank Chetco River Road, Bishop said at the press conference.

They drove to Dollar Tree in Harbor, where they purchased several new toys. When they returned home, Brooke walked from the car into the family home, where her husband and baby waited, but Zoey did not follow.

The family searched their property for the girl and, when they couldn’t find her, called 911.

“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘It can happen that fast,’” Bishop said.

No more than an half-hour passed between the time the family began searching and the 911 call, he said.

More than 60 search and rescue workers from five surrounding counties, including Del Norte, responded Wednesday, and more arrived Thursday morning.

Four tracking dogs brought to the scene by search and rescue teams were unable to follow Zoey’s scent due to the rugged terrain and high winds.

Because of the extremely difficult terrain, volunteers were going to be assigned according to their abilities, Bishop said at the news conference, adding, “Some of our searchers are literally crawling through brush on their hands and knees.”

The terrain near the Dorsey family home is extremely steep, covered with brush and in parts, heavily forested. It backs up to a large, uninhabited area.

Wednesday and Thursday temperatures in the Brookings area were higher than average, in the low 70s, but the nighttime temperatures dipped into the mid-40s with gusting winds.

“Every (daylight) minute that goes by is our worst enemy,” Bishop said hours before the search ended successfully.



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