KING COUNTY, Wash. (KOMO/CNN) – A teenager who went missing in a Washington state forest on July 24 survived for nine days by drinking water from a stream and eating berries.
Gia Fuda, 18, was found Saturday, conscious and alert, climbing a ravine deep in the woods near Skykomish, Washington.
Fuda disappeared July 24. Her car was located on the side of the highway out of gas.
“It’s a miracle. God blessed this family today,” said family friend Jeff White. “This was the last day of the search, and we were concerned that we weren’t going to find her and we were going to leave these mountains without her.”
Fuda’s family says she is doing well and recovering after spending the night at a local hospital.
The King County Sheriff’s Office says the 18-year-old survived in the wilderness by drinking water from a stream, and a family friend says she ate berries in the area.
Search and rescue crews from multiple counties covered hundreds of miles in the effort to track her down. Just after 2 p.m. Saturday, searchers spotted a notebook then clothing along the side of a creek about three miles from where Fuda’s car had been found.
Keeping along the creek, they finally came across Fuda.
KCSO Sgt. Ryan Abbott says the 18-year-old walked away from her car, possibly to look for help because the area where her car broke down is a “dead zone” for cell phone service. At some point, for reasons unknown, she went into the woods, and Abbott says it’s likely she got lost there.
“It’s very possible she could’ve just got turned around when she was trying to walk to get gas. We don’t know why she was up there yet at this point,” he said.
For King County, it’s the second-longest search that ended with the person being found alive. For Fuda’s loved ones, it’s a weight off their shoulders.
“We just thought it was the final trip and that the family wasn’t going to have closure,” White said.
The sheriff’s office says the best thing to do if you find yourself out of gas in a remote area is to put your hood up on your car and wait for help.