- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Two young sisters were found safe yesterday after spending 18 hours lost in the woods, huddling together in near-freezing weather after they wandered from their family's vacation campsite.
Elizabeth Murrell, 12, and 9-year-old sister, Amanda, said they found some shelter in a hollowed-out tree and experienced few problems other than numb hands and feet.
"Basically, we just bundled up together in our jackets," Elizabeth told reporters after the girls were returned to the Tropical Palms Resort near Walt Disney World.
"I had frost on my jacket early in the morning," Elizabeth said. Amanda "could barely stand up, she was so cold."
The girls were reported missing Saturday night after they left their parents, John and Teresa Murrell of Savannah, Ga., and four siblings to explore before dinner, Osceola County sheriff's deputies said.
"There's a nature trail that backs up to that campground. It's somewhat open when you first go in, and then it gets very confusing," said Osceola County Sheriff's Detective Michelle Keefer.
Miss Keefer said a deputy on foot found the girls walking out of an access road about a quarter mile from the family's base, but searchers suspect the girls had gotten as far as two to five miles away from the campground before falling asleep.
The family had been planning to head home to Savannah yesterday, but the girls' disappearance extended their stay by a day.
Officers with bloodhounds had searched the woods after dark Saturday, and Miss Keefer said more than 50 officers returned to the area after daybreak yesterday.
The girls said they saw a helicopter flying overhead during the night but couldn't get the crew's attention.
The sheriff's office had issued an Amber alert about the girls' disappearance and activated a reverse 911 system that placed recorded calls to homes as far as a mile from the campground.

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