(CBS SF) — After surviving 44 hours in the rugged wilderness near their Humboldt County home, 8- and 5-year-old sisters Leia and Caroline Carrico and their parents met with reporters Monday to describe their ordeal.
A fire chief and firefighter from a local volunteer department found the sisters dehydrated and cold but in good spirits on Sunday after they got lost near their home in the small community of Benbow on Friday afternoon.
On Monday, Leia Carrico described how the two were able to stay warm and protected them from the rain. “”We found shelter, a tree branch near to the ground and we had my sister’s rain jacket to keep us warm … We turned it sideways so both of us had an armhole that we stuck our arms into.”
Leia also said she helped her younger sister cope with their predicament. “My sister cried the whole night and so I told her to think happy thoughts of our family, and so I kept watch for most of the night.”
Caroline Carrico said she and her sister knew they should not have gone past a marker near their home. “We forgot that no one should pass that marker,” said Caroline. “But I just wanted a little more adventure … I said to go a little farther.”
Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said it was “an absolute miracle” the girls were found safe, thanks in part to survival training they received from their local 4-H club.
“They did the right thing,” said mother Misty Carrico. “I mean, yeah they might have wandered off but they stuck together and pulled themselves through. They saved each other. So, I’m the proudest mom. I raised superheroes.”
“I spent two days crying my eyes out looking everywhere we could look going to every house all the neighbors houses and outbuildings,” said father Travis Carrico.
Firefighters who found the girls said they had followed their boot prints. The rescuers were part of a massive search of a vast and rugged rural area that included a dozen agencies, including the National Guard, helicopters and tracking dogs.