Missing girl in northern Michigan found alive and well

Posted at 11:41 AM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 22:27:02-04

OSCODA COUNTY, Mich. — A missing 2-year-old in northern Michigan has been found alive.

Michigan State Police say that the girl is well. They say she walked to a nearby residence about a quarter mile to a half-mile west of where she had last been seen.

Mike Owens, who is staying at the cabin Gabriella Vitale walked up to,  was part of an unsuccessful search party Monday night.

"People had gone to bed, prayed on it, just hoping that she'd get home safe," Owens said.

Tuesday morning, those prayers were answered when the child wandered up to his cabin.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little girl walk up to the door ... So I opened the door and she did this and I did this and scooped her up and we got a lot of moms in there," Owens said. "So I handed her off to a mom and people just crying and just, I asked one of my team members to call the police."

Police say that location was on the outskirts of where they had been searching.

Gabriella wandered away from her family's campsite early Monday morning, while the family was packing up to leave.

The girl is being taken to an area hospital to be checked. She had gone over 24 hours without water, but first responders say she was in good shape.

The family released this statement Tuesday afternoon:

“We would like to express our thanks to God for keeping our sweet Gabriella safe. Thank you to the countless public safety officers, first responders, and those that helped locate our girl. We are forever grateful to the Fairview Community, especially the local, state and DNR officers. Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we hold Gabriella in our arms.” - Alyssa Bijarro, mother of Gabriella