A man and 3 children who were the target of an extensive day long search in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore have been found safe and alive. The call came across the radio at 7:49 Monday night.
The family was found out in a field near Dune Valley Road. Authorities say they were exhausted and dehydrated. The path they had taken took them through swamps and thick woods as well as some hills.
The kids initially told rescuers they were on a camping trip with their dad.
"They kind of figured they were camping. That's what they thought they were doing today," said Sheriff Mike Borkovich of Leelanau County.
The campers, however, spent the day on the dunes without any water or food and no camping equipment. They were out in a rain shower and 90 degree heat.
The twelve hour search involved a Coast Guard helicopter, dozens of searchers, and canine units. The thick forest made it difficult for search teams to see anything through the trees.
The sheriff said he thinks the four came out from under cover once the helicopter was grounded, which helped rescue crews on the ground find them.
â??It turned out to beâ??if you willâ??a rogue camping event rather than a kidnapping or amber alert situation or something like that. I'm pleased to say thatâ??that it turned out well. Sometimes they don't. This one turned out well,â?? said Sheriff Borkovich.
The man and his family were visiting friends in the area over the weekend.
The Emmet County Sheriff says the wife of the missing man made a domestic abuse call from her cell phone to Emmet County Central Dispatch at 10:35 Sunday morning.
A statewide domestic assault warrant had been issued for the father.
A Sleeping Bear Dunes park ranger found an abandoned car early Monday morning near the Maritime Museum. Running the license plate number alerted authorities to the man's arrest warrant relating to domestic violence, leading to the search.
The suspect is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Emmet County on the original domestic abuse charge. The sheriff said the suspect will not face additional charges stemming from today. His name has not yet been released.
The sheriff said he was given a tip from a bicyclist in the afternoon who said he saw a man and three kids near some blackberries.
The sheriff interviewed the kids Monday night. He found out the two girls, ages 14 and 10 and a boy, age nine hadn't eaten since Sunday morning. They were given cheese burgers at the station.