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September 08. 2013 10:32PM

5-year-old missing in Gilmanton found safe in Loudon


From left, Gilmanton Police Chief Joseph Collins, Fish and Game Lt. Jim Juneau, and State Police Capt. Mark Armaganian brief reporters on the search for a 5-year-old girl Sunday in Gilmanton. (DAN SEUFERT PHOTO)

GILMANTON — After a seven-hour search that covered 500 acres in two towns, a 5-year-old Brookline girl who was lost in the woods was found early Sunday night near a home in Loudon, according to authorities.

The girl had been visiting with her family at a house on Rollins Pond Road, Fish and Game Lt. Jim Juneau said.

She was found wandering alone outside a home on the other side of the woods, on Blake Road in Loudon, in "excellent" condition, Juneau said. She was quickly returned to her worried parents.

Officials refused to identify the girl.

"She probably walked a couple of miles," Juneau said. "She had mud up to her clothes, and she probably has a few more bug bites, but she was evaluated and found to be in excellent shape."

At about 12 p.m., she was playing with six other children, who were 11 years old and under, when she became lost, Juneau said.

"They were playing a game and she got excited and ran off," he said. "The other children came home without her, and the search began."

Search crews with family members and neighbors combed the woods all around the Rollins Pond Road area Sunday afternoon. Late in the afternoon, two state police bloodhounds were used in the woods, and five more search dogs from area rescue crews were ready to search into the night, Juneau said.

Kristin Campbell of New England Canine Search and Rescue arrived at 7 p.m. with her English coonhound, Kinley. She was called, she said, and was glad to volunteer for the search because of the potential serious nature of the situation.

"It's getting dark, and getting cold, but this is what we train for," she said.

Also arriving to help was the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team, which conducts searches with trained dogs. Local and area police and firefighters were called as well.

Overhead, a Massachusetts State Police helicopter was circling, ready to use its forward-loading infrared scanning device, Juneau said.

A firefighter from Bradford who did not want to be identified volunteered to stand at the bottom of Rollins Pond Road, keeping people from entering the search area.

"I have a daughter, so I know what this is like," he said.

Dozens of neighbors lined the road leading up to the house early Sunday evening, all hoping to help search.

"We'll do anything to help," said neighbor Tamara Stevens.

At 7:46 p.m., Juneau emerged and said the child had been found by homeowners in Loudon.

"It's always nice to have it end like this, and I want to thank everyone who volunteered to help, especially all the law enforcement agencies," Juneau said. "We were ready to search all night if necessary."

dseufert@newstote.com


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