12 Year Old Girl Found After Night Missing In Santa Cruz Mountains

ZAYANTE – A 12-year-old girl spent Saturday night alone in the Santa Cruz Mountains after being separated from her adult companion Saturday afternoon.

A large search-and-rescue operation was prepared to fan out across the rugged Upper Zayante terrain where Laura Wells-Lucas went missing when the girl was reported found at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

“This morning we had 48 trained personnel already prepared to head out to search for Laura. Everyone was briefed and we had just finished putting a communication plan in place when we got word that she had been found by a neighbor near a water tank on a nearby property and returned home,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Lt. Fred Plageman.

The operation staged at San Lorenzo Valley High School and include search and rescue personnel from as far away as Marin County. Plageman said more than 50 additional volunteers were on their way when Laura was found.

Laura became separated from the adult that she was hiking with on a remote 300-acre property roughly eight miles up Zayante, according to Plageman.

“Laura and this adult took an ATV to the property together and were hiking together when they became separated,” said Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Lt. Fred Plageman. “At this point, it looks as if she was out there overnight. We’re still waiting on more details regarding the exact nature of the situation.”

A medical team was sent to the girl’s home to perform a medical examination after the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office received word of her discovery, according to Plageman.

“We also have some investigators on scene to make sure that it’s a safe environment for Laura to return to,” Plageman said.

On Saturday night, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s helicopter repeatedly flew over the area Saturday night calling out for the girl with a loudspeaker.

The frenetic scene Saturday night was complicated by the fact that a “very serious” head-on accident occurred on Graham Hill Road at Sims Road at the same time. The wreck required two Life Flight helicopters and shut down the road for a number of hours as victims were extracted from their vehicles.

“The important thing is that we found Laura and she’s fine. So many times these operations do not have a good result,” said Plageman. “Everyone gets to go home and have a good Father’s Day.”

Plageman said he was grateful for the quick response of local resources, including San Lorenzo Valley Principal Jeff Calden who opened his campus to the search and rescue team early Sunday morning.

Source : http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/18/search-widens-for-12-year-old-girl-missing-in-santa-cruz-mountains/

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