FAITHORN, Mich. (WJMN) – It was a normal evening in Faithorn, Michigan for the Chase family on Wednesday, which quickly turned into a massive search and rescue operation for a toddler.
Brooke Chase was at home with her son and 2-year-old daughter, Thea. Her husband Alex was at work. Marcus Christy, Alex’s brother-in-law, was also at the house.
“She’s her uncle’s shadow and is constantly with him, which is why it’s such a shock to us that she left him,” Brooke Chase told Nexstar’s WJMN.
Christy said he took a break from pressure washing the sides of the house when he told Thea to come into the house because it was getting late.
“We thought she had gone back into the house,” Christy said. A little later, Brooke and Christy realized they didn’t know where Thea was. That’s when the research began.
After their initial searches, they noticed that she was not the only one missing.
“We were looking all over the yard, along the road, screaming his name at the top of our lungs, calling for the dogs because the dogs were missing too,” Brooke said.
That’s when Brooke called Alex at work. “My wife called me and as soon as I heard her voice, I knew something was definitely wrong. I didn’t think twice about it, I just got home.
Brooke said the search for Thea began around 7:40 p.m. and by 8 p.m. police were mobilizing resources.
“We had a lot of troops on the ground in a very short amount of time,” said Jeremy Hauswirth, Iron Mountain post commander for the Michigan State Police. “We had drones on scene, police K-9s from several different departments, state and county police. We had citizen volunteers and search and rescue services available.
Christy and the Chase family said the response from the community has been incredible. “This place was packed with people in half an hour.”
Four long hours later, news of the discovery arrived, not by drones or K-9s, but by a family friend on an ATV.
“He went way further than anyone was looking,” Brooke said. “And (Thea) was far away. He said that if it weren’t for the dogs coming out of the trees, he wouldn’t have seen her.
It was Buddy, the big Rottweiler, that the man found first. Brooke said he was lying near a berm a short distance from an ATV trail, about three miles from their home. When he stopped to investigate, he found Thea sleeping with her head resting on the family’s other dog, Hartley.
When she was found, Brooke was at home while Marcus and Alex led a search party in another part of the woods.
“As soon as we heard she had been found, I started running. And I felt like I stopped because I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t even know where the hell she is.’ You know what I mean? Alex and I just started running. And then they said they were on their way home. We started running towards the house.
Medical staff determined Thea was in good health after she was found.
As for the police investigation, authorities do not believe foul play or negligence played a role in this entire ordeal. Commander Hauswirth said things like this were sometimes unavoidable.
“I raised four kids myself, and you can be the best parent on the planet and they have minds of their own. They will do things in an instant that will surprise you. Even the best parents can blink and their child can disappear.
With Thea in her arms, Brooke said: “She has no idea how much stress she put me and her dad and everyone through last night.”
The Chase family says they want to thank everyone involved in the search for their daughter.
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