Northern California sisters talk for first time about surviving 2 days in Humboldt Co. wilderness

BENBOW, California -- In their first interview since being rescued, 8-year-old Leia Carrico and 5-year-old Caroline Carrico credited survival movies and camping lessons from their family for helping them survive two nights in the Northern California wilderness.

"I felt a little nervous and a little afraid, but I knew dad would find us eventually," said Leia Carrico.

The two young sisters went missing Friday from their home in Benbow, a small community about 200 miles northwest of Sacramento.

RELATED: Sisters found alive after being lost in Humboldt Co. wilderness

They were found Sunday morning alive, uninjured and "in good spirits," according to Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal.

The girls' mom Misty said they had asked her take them on a hike Friday afternoon.

"I told them not at this time," as she was preoccupied with taking care of their little brother.

"And I loaded a couple of bags and I turned around and both my girls were gone," she said.

Misty said initially she wasn't worried because the girls often took short little walks in the woods, but when it got dark and they were not back she sounded the alarm.

The girls explained that after talking with their mom they went for walk down a deer trail they used before, but they went past a marker that their parents told them not to pass.

"Leia wanted a little tiny more adventure, but I wanted more," said Caroline.

When they tried to retrace their steps they took a wrong turn and got lost.

They estimated they walked two to three miles in the wrong direction, but the girls' mom believe it was actually closer to six miles.

The girls said they were a little nervous when it got dark and started raining.

"My sister cried the whole night, so I told her to think happy thoughts of our family, and I kept watch most of the night," recalled Leia.

They said they sought shelter under a tree branch and shared Caroline's rain jacket, huddling together for warmth.

Leia said she was able to start a fire because she watched a lot of movies where people have to survive on tropical islands.

"When we woke up we stayed in the same place so Dad could find us. There was a creek nearby and we sung nursery rhymes at the top of our lungs," explained Leia.

More than 100 police and rescue personnel were searching for them, including the National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard.

They used tracking dogs and helicopters, which the girls said they saw and yelled at but couldn't flag down.

The girls said it had gotten so cold that their hands turned white and they had trouble opening and closing their hands.

Facing a second night in the wilderness, the girls were able to find a better shelter under a huckleberry bush.

Sunday morning rescuers found boot tracks and were able to zero in on the girls' location.

"We were calling occasionally and stopping to listen," recalled family friend Delbert Chumley.

"We heard some crackling in the brush so we stopped. I thought we heard someone say 'Dad.' We called out again and they said, 'We're right here,'" Chumley said.

The girls were taken to a hospital Sunday but were released by the time they gave their first interview Monday.

Misty credits the girls participation in the local 4-H program with giving them some of the skills to survive.

She also said that while the girls did break the family rules by wandering too far, she's proud of how they reacted.

"I'm trying not to punish them because they did the right thing. They might have wandered off but they stuck together and they pulled themselves through. They saved each other," she said.
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