A ‘resourceful’ 10-year-old girl, who authorities say survived on her own and got lost in the woods of Washington state for more than 24 hours after being separated from her family on Sunday, has told how she had endured the ordeal.
Shunghla Mashwani disappeared in the Cle Elum River Valley while playing in the woods at a gathering with extended family at the Cathedral Pass trailhead on Fish Lake Road, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said. .
When the family, who came to the United States from Afghanistan two years ago, crossed a footbridge over the Cle Elum River to have lunch at the trailhead, officials said they realized Shunghla was gone. About 20 family members began a frantic search for the child, who was reported missing around 2 p.m.
Shunghla told her family and her rescuers that she couldn’t find the walkway they crossed on her own after they suddenly got separated, according to the sheriff’s office.
Although she was lost and alone, Shunghla said she stayed calm and tried to find a way through the woods.
“I remember there was a forest, I was lost and sleepy and I wasn’t afraid,” Shunghla told FOX13 Seattle through her uncle Kamaludin Ezhar’s translation.
Shunghla walked alone through the dense forest, following the river downstream and spent the cold night between the trees, the sheriff’s office said.
“She said she knew it was the right thing to do to follow the river,” the sheriff’s office said. “She proved to be an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old girl.”
The desperate family paused in their search for Shunghla after about two hours when a passerby on a UTV offered a satellite phone in his cabin to call for help. Officials said there was no cell signal in the valley.
Deputies and Kittitas County Search and Rescue volunteers began searching for the 10-year-old through the steep, rugged and remote terrain with dense trees and undergrowth.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, two volunteers found Shunghla alive with only minor scratches about 1 ½ miles from where she was last seen.
She was taken upstream on an inflatable boat and reunited with her family.