M.an has to imagine it exactly: Icy cold, absolute darkness, hunger, thirst, eerie rustling and cracking in the wood – and then only fear and despair, as it is completely uncertain whether you will ever be found. An eight-year-old girl had to spend two nights on her own in the deepest forest, apparently only wearing a thin rain jacket over her clothes. The fact that she was found alive in view of the temperatures “borders on a miracle,” said Josef Weindl, spokesman for the Upper Palatinate police headquarters on Wednesday. It must have caused great physical and psychological stress for the child. Especially the darkness at night when you “can’t see your hand in front of your eyes”. It was not a full moon that could have given at least some light and in the impassable, densely overgrown area there is hardly any open space. “At the thought of spending two nights and many hours a day there completely alone, it already gives you the creeps as an adult.”
In a bush in a wooded area on the Czech side, a forester finally found the girl on Tuesday around 1.30 p.m. The child had “not drawn attention to itself”, but it was approachable and outwardly unharmed, but “completely exhausted” and hypothermic. The girl was taken to a hospital in the Czech border region with Bavaria. “She is doing well under the circumstances,” says Weindl. By Wednesday noon she was able to leave the hospital healthy again.
The children ran ahead – and then turned off
In the most beautiful sunshine, Julia started on Sunday with her parents, her six-year-old brother and her nine-year-old cousin from Waldmünchen on a hike on the Cerchov mountain. The family comes from the greater Berlin area. On the way back they walked along the so-called Panzerstraße, which led down from the mountain. This is a wide, concrete road from which hiking trails branch off to the left and right, says Weindl. The children ran ahead and turned onto one of these hiking trails.
Here they must have separated and lost their orientation, because on the hiking trail a couple, who were cycling, came across the two boys. “The couple asked where the parents were. The boys said that the parents would follow. ”The woman then stayed with the boys, the man went to meet the parents and led them to the children. There it was immediately noticeable that Julia was missing. According to Weindl, it is not yet clear why the girl was not there, whether a quarrel or a game was the reason. First they looked for the girl, then around 5:30 p.m. the police were called. It was slowly getting dark.
Race against time
From then on, the German and Czech side searched intensively for the child around the clock until Tuesday afternoon. More than 1,400 people, mainly from the police, mountain rescue services, fire brigade and technical aid organizations, were involved, 115 people and area search dogs were in action, and police helicopters and drones supported the search operations from the air. The rescuers, including many volunteers, knew what was at stake: time was pressing to find the child still alive.
In the questionnaire, the girl stated that she had run several kilometers through the forest in the two days. At night she slept in a meadow in tall grass and saw animals such as deer, foxes and a wild boar, a police spokesman described Julia’s descriptions on Wednesday. Out of fear, she did not draw attention to herself at night. The child’s movements may have resulted in the search being unsuccessful at first. Weindl explains it like this: Perhaps the search parties have just combed through a piece of forest and are moving on. The child could then have walked into the exact piece that the helpers had assumed the child was not there. Of course they also called for her – but in the densely overgrown area the calls could not have gotten very far.
According to Weindl, there are currently no indications that a stranger is responsible for the child’s disappearance. The forester who finally found the child in the bushes of an impassable piece of forest in the Czech Republic, about 3.5 kilometers from the summit of Cerchov, was part of the search. On the Czech side, too, “everything has been mobilized”, including the local forest rangers. “They know their territory, they know every stone. They are the best people. “
“She must have been very skilled”
The feeling of having found the girl alive cannot be described at all, reported the forester Martin Semecky on Wednesday of the dpa. “Suddenly little Julia was in front of us, she was sitting about ten meters away in the tall grass,” said the Czech. When he said her name, the child only nodded her head. He said: “Everything is good, great!” Then he wrapped her in his green jacket and alerted the operations center. Semecky now praised the girl’s perseverance in nature: “To do that, she must have been very skilled.”
When the news of relief came, the child’s parents were immediately taken to their daughter in the hospital by police carers. A police crisis intervention team had stood by their side since the child’s disappearance. Because of the successful search operation, the Upper Palatinate Police Headquarters once again emphasized the “usual trusting, unbureaucratic, transnational cooperation with the Czech partners”.