In the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has caused mass panic, it can be hard to imagine anything worse. But the situation with one family in Alabama is any parent’s worst nightmare.
Their 4-year-old child, Evelyn Sides, had gone missing.
The story began ominously.
Evelyn Sides, who goes by Vadie, wandered off into the woods near Loachapoka, Ala., Wednesday afternoon.
A call went out a few hours later from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office: authorities were searching for a white female, “3′ tall and weighs 40 pounds. She has red hair and was wearing a blue print dress with green flower patterns. She may be accompanied by a hound dog, reddish in color with a collar.”
Evelyn, who had been under the watch of a caretaker at the time, simply vanished without a trace sometime during her walk with the family dog.
As it turns out, the little girl was in very good company during the time she was missing.
Lee County Sheriff’s deputies, K-9 units and volunteer fire and rescue personnel were on the trail. All told, hundreds of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies reportedly helped in the search, assisted by drones, people on horseback and even helicopters.
Concerned residents flooded the sheriff’s Facebook page: “Any updates?” “Has she been found?” “How can we help?”
After two nights of searching, the sheriff’s office on Friday opened the search to the public. It asked for “able-bodied persons in good physical condition” to help scout the “dense wooded terrain.”
Vadie was found with her dog, Lucy, just a few hours later, within a mile from where she was last seen.
While rescuers arrived to attend to Evelyn, the dog, Lucy ran off, but authorities later reported that the protective canine arrived home safely later that day.