DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. - After a day-long search for a missing 13-year-old girl with special needs, Douglas County authorities said they have found her safe. Deputies said the girl was found near Yeager Middle School just after 10 p.m. Wednesday.
"They located her bike and started doing a grid search from her bicycle," said Jason Milhollin, Director of the Douglas County Emergency Management. "And they located her not too far from where they found her bicycle."
Milhollin said they found Trinity Sarah Lopez laying down in the woods, likely hiding because of the commotion in the area. The commotion, of course, being the search effort to find her, but investigators believe she was not there the whole day.
“She probably was mobile because the area had been searched before,” said Milhollin.
Lopez went missing from her home in the 8000 block of Earl D. Lee Blvd. around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities said she had her bike with her.
“We’re working three-mile radius, so technically six miles, three in either direction is where we're at. So, a massive area,” Sgt. Hambrick, Douglas County Sheriff's Office. “And we started at a very smallest location at 7:30 this morning and we continually moved it out from there.”
The search widened until it went into the 14th hour. That is when the sheriff’s office switched gears from an active search to a saturation patrol of the area.
"Every passing minute, it creates more worry, not only for the family, but for us law enforcement folks. We're invested in this. We wouldn't have all of these resources out here. You know, the sheriff, when he said 'Let's go! We’re gonna find this girl!' he pulled out all the stops,” said Sgt. Hambrick
Community members came out by the dozens to help search for her.
“’I’m a member of the community and I have a kid and I want to help serve.’” We're giving them flyers and we're sending them to locations in public places where they can spread the word,” said Sgt. Hambrick. "30 to 50, I know for a fact, I’ve had 30 people approach me in the last couple of hours, somewhere in the area of 50, 60, 70 law enforcement, plus another 30, 40, 50 people just showing up saying that are seeing you guys' newscast saying hey ‘I’m here to help.’”
Authorities were asking residents to check their properties, especially sheds, to make sure the girl was not hiding. Sgt. Hambrick said 70 percent of the time, children are found in out building structures.
Lopez was taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out, but deputies said she appeared to be in good condition.