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Missing 10-year-old girl survives night alone in the wilderness

A girl spent 25 hours in the Cascade Mountains alone. She knew to stay close to the river, which ultimately helped her to be found.
Missing 10-year-old girl survives night alone in the wilderness
Posted at 12:13 PM, Jun 08, 2023

A sheriff’s office in Washington said a missing 10-year-old survived after being alone for over 24 hours in the Cascade Mountains last weekend. 

According to the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, 10-year-old Shunghla Mashwani was playing in the woods on Sunday near Cle Elum, Washington. When the family walked across the river to eat lunch, they noticed she was missing. 

The area reportedly does not have cellphone service, and the family searched for Shunghla for two hours before someone passing by offered their Starlink phone to call 911. 

Authorities used volunteer ground teams, K9s, and drones to look for Shunghla. They also used swiftwater rescue teams, fearing that the girl was swept by fast-moving river currents. 

The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said at 3 p.m. Monday, about 25 hours after she was last seen, ground team volunteers found her with only minor scratches. Authorities said she had gone about 1.5 miles from where she was last seen. 

Rescuers used an inflatable watercraft to bring her to the other side of the river to be reunited with her family. 

SEE MORE: These safety tips could get you out of a bad spot on your next hike

"The Mashwani family came to the U.S. from Afghanistan only two year ago and told searchers they like to spend time in the high backcountry because it reminds them of home. Shunghla told her family and rescuers she found herself suddenly separated and alone when the family was traveling back toward the footbridge and couldn't find the bridge on her own," the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office wrote. "She hiked downstream through the dense forest and spent the cold night between some trees. She said she knew it was the right thing to follow the river. She proved an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old."

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures reached the upper 40s in the area early Monday morning. 

Cle Elum is a popular destination for outdoor activity east of Seattle. 

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