Missing girl wandered 30 blocks before found, police say

Posted at 6:35 PM, Mar 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-05 00:51:32-05

WEST VALLEY CITY -- New details after a 12-year-old girl went missing Monday but was found safe Tuesday and reunited with family.

West Valley Police say Ashley Esquivel walked out of school angry at a teacher over an assignment. She planned to walk home but became disoriented and spent the night in the cold. Luckily a Kearns couple found her around 8 a.m. Tuesday.

"I don't think we could have had a better outcome," said Deputy Chief Mike Powell with West Valley City Police Department.

Cops, school officials and family members are relieved Ashley is safe after going missing for 18 hours.

"All indications lead us to believe that there was no foul play in this and that Ashley walked about basically," Powell said.

Cops say she left her school, American Preparatory Academy Monday afternoon because she was mad at a teacher and went to cool off.

“It was very, very difficult emotionally for our staff but they were here,” said Carolyn Sharette, Executive Director of American Preparatory Schools. “They stayed the whole night, police and family.”

By sunset, the girl was lost.

"Ultimately when the sun came up this morning, she tried to find her way back home," Powell said.

However, after a couple saw Ashley's picture on social media and in news reports, "I turned my head and said she looks familiar and then we drove around and I said 'that's the girl,’ said Seini Nau

She and her husband Isaiah Nau spotted Ashley in her uniform walking near a McDonald's at 6200 South and 4500 West, more than 30 blocks from school but not far from Ashley's home.

"She just looked frightened, tired, cold," said Isaiah Nau.

The couple took Ashley into their car to get her warm.

"The whole time I'm just telling her, talking to her, it's OK your mom's looking for you, everyone's worried, don't worry, everything's gonna be OK," said Seini Nau

"Once she was taken to the hospital she was treated for hypothermia obviously due to her exposure to the elements throughout the night.  (There was) no report of any additional injuries,” Powell added.

"I'm just very grateful and happy Heavenly Father was watching and protecting her and nothing bad happened to her," Seini Nau said.