Two young siblings who disappeared from their front yard have been found in a wooded area less than a mile away from their Florida home on Tuesday.
Braxton Williams, 6, and his sister Bri’ya Williams, 5, first went missing on Sunday morning outside their home at the Paradise Valley mobile park in Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced the children had been found safe and alive in a dilapidated pumphouse near their home, News4Jax reports.
Braxton Williams, 6, (left) and his sister Bri’ya Williams, 5, (right) have been found by Jacksonville authorities on Tuesday
‘We are happy to announce that Braxton and Bri’ya Williams have been located. Thank you to the community for your support and to our partner agencies for assisting in this search,’ the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wrote on Twitter.
19 Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies and other authorities were doing a line search in a wooded area on day three of the desperate search for the Williams siblings.
Sheriff Mike Williams said that one of the rescue team members heard a child’s voice, prompting authorities to fan out and search other parts of the area.
They eventually discovered Braxton and Bri’ya in the pumphouse around a quarter mile into the wooded area from their home off West Beaver Street.
The children were brought out of the woods of around 3.30pm and were met by a cousin who ran over after noticing the commotion.
She said: ‘I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it was good, bad or whatever, but they reassured me that everything was perfectly fine. We just thank God, because the only thing we wanted was the kids home and safe with their parents, so it has been a glorious day.’
Pictured: Braxton (center) holding onto first responders after he and Bri’ya were found on Tuesday
Williams said the children were slightly dehydrated and had a few bumps, but appeared in good health and were very talkative.
They reportedly clung to first responders as they were transported to a waiting Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department ambulance.
‘They asked for a cheese pizza, that we quickly delivered to them,’ Williams told NBC News.
Afterwards, first responders could be seen kneeling in prayer as the ambulance took the siblings to the UF Health medical center for observation.
JSO Assistant Chief Ellis Burns called the Braxton and Bri’ya’s rescue a ‘Christmas miracle.’
‘It’s a blessing. A lot of hard work been done and that’s all I want to say. Thank God for it,’ she said.
JFRD Chief Keith Powers said: ‘A lot of times we don’t have great outcomes. I think this is a glorious day for the city that we were able to do this.’
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the children (left and right) were slightly dehydrated and had a few minor injuries, but were otherwise healthy
‘But it all goes to show you what the partnership that works and how we can make a difference in people’s lives. The good thing is, is that family is fixing to have a wonderful Christmas,’ he continued.
As of Tuesday, investigators searched more than 430 homes, 20 bodies of water and a 130 acres of land, using additional air units and K-9s.
Braxton and Bri’ya initially went missing around 11.30am on December 15 while playing outside their home.
Bryan Williams, the children’s father, was setting up a barbecue in the family’s yard and briefly went inside.
Pictured: an Amber Alert was issued for Braxton and Bri’ya after they went missing on Sunday morning
When he came out, the siblings were gone and he later called local authorities when he couldn’t find them.
‘I’ve been doing this for the last three years,’ he told NBC News,’ and called it a ‘normal’ day.
Authorities said Braxton ‘on the Autism Spectrum but will communicate with others,’ after they released an Amber Alert.
Williams urged neighbors and Jacksonville residents to ‘remain vigilant’ and help search for the children.
‘If you live in the area, please search your property including under mobile homes, in sheds, in and around abandoned cars,’ he said in a previous press release.