A California couple and their two daughters who had been missing since Sunday when pirates attacked their boat in the Amazon River delta area have been rescued and new details are emerging about how they survived.
Adam and Emily Harteau and their three and seven-year-old daughters were in good condition when they were found by a fisherman in the jungle a few days following the cargo ferry they were on being overtaken by pirates with guns.
According to the Los Angeles Times, who spoke to an official with the Pará Deputy Secretary of Public Safety, André Cunha, there were no other passengers on board the vessel and the family was sleeping in their van when the pirates boarded and took everyone hostage.
The ferry’s crew and the family at some point managed to call the police. When they finally arrived, the pirates had fled, so the officials spoke to the victims and set off in search of the gunmen.
However, when the police returned to the boat the following morning around 6:30am with a laptop they were able to recover from the pirates, the Harteaus were nowhere to be found.
After being lost in the jungle for days, Adam and Emily Harteau and their three and seven-year-old daughters were found floating on a surfboard by rural river dwellers
Dramatic rescue. The Harteau family said they survived on fruit and river water before they were rescued
The new photos were released by Brazil’s Secretary of State for Public Security and Social Defense, Adam and Emily Harteau, and their daughters, Sierra, left, and Colette, pose for a photo with personnel of the Regional Hospital in the Breves municipality, Para state, Brazil
‘We don’t know exactly why they left the boat,’ Cunha told Globo, a local TV station.
‘If they left for fear of what had already happened and the police being there because of the situation, or maybe they were afraid because of the small amount of marijuana’ that police located inside the family van — apparently for recreational use.
The police searched the Amazonian wilderness in search of the family without luck.
A few days later, although the timeline is unclear, the family was found by Ribeirinhos- rural river dwellers- who found the family of four floating on a surfboard in a ravine close to the Jacaré Grande River, not far from where police had boarded the ferry.
The family was found almost unscathed, suffering dehydration, inset bites and scratches.
The Harteaus told police on Wednesday that their family survived on fruits and river water before being found floating on the surfboard.
The Harteaus were set to spend the night in a hospital in the small city of Breves, which is not far from where they were found, law enforcement officials in Brazil’s northern jungle state of Para said Wednesday.
Police would not confirm if they arrested any of the pirates.
Adam and Emily Harteau and their 3- and 7-year-old daughters were found after they had gone missing when pirates attacked their boat in the Amazon River delta. They are all in good condition and will spend the night in a hospital. Pictured Wednesday
The Harteaus were headed to Breves when gunmen boarded the boat they were on and forced it to go the city of Porto dos Dias
Breves is a Brazilian municipality located in the state of Pará, on the island of Marajó
Their crew and passengers were held hostage for several hours and stripped of their personal belongings before the pirates fled, officials said.
Police found the van the family had been using in their journey abandoned in the jungle.
Colby Guillory, a Los Angeles resident acting as a family spokesman, said friends and relatives originally thought the Harteaus decided to flee the boat to get away from the pirates and have been walking in the jungle since, when it was reported the family went missing when police first arrived.
‘Me knowing Adam, he probably took it upon himself to save his family,’ Guillory said. ‘We just know that sometime between pirates overtaking the boat and leaving the boat, (the Harteaus) went missing. We think they jumped.’
When Guillory heard his good friends were safe he said he began ‘super excited ugly-crying.’
‘We just can’t wait to have them home,’ he said.
Police say the family were traveling down the Amazon River on a ferry when it was hijacked by several heavily armed men around 7pm on Sunday
The passengers and crew were held hostage for several hours before the pirates left. When police arrived they said the Hearteau family were missing
The family van, which they have been using to travel around the world in since 2012, was found abandoned in the jungle but there were no sign of the occupants
True color satellite image of the Amazon Delta, one of the longest river in the world with numerous bends and tributaries
Adam Harteau’s brother, Keith Harteau, told The Associated Press earlier that the attack happened as the family was on its way to move back to California. They were set to arrive in Los Angeles on November 15.
Keith Harteau said the couple wanted to be closer to home and for their girls to be near their family.
‘It was their time to get a little bit of foundation,’ he said.
Emily Harteau grew up in Sacramento and Adam grew up in Juniper Hills in the San Gabriel Mountains just northeast of Los Angeles.
Police said they have also found a number of boxes taken by the pirates in the jungle close to where the ferry was hijacked, but no sign of the family
Adam works as an artist while Emily is a fashion designer and cook, according to their blog which says they lived in California before deciding to travel the world
The Harteaus had recently been living in the southern Brazil city of Florianopolis
The Harteaus had recently been living in the southern Brazil city of Florianopolis.
They have been using a website to document their journey around South America, which began in 2012 as a plan to travel to Patagonia in their Volkswagen van and return to California one year later.
But the Harteaus fell in love with South America and have been there since after they ‘decided to embrace a future unknown and the rewards of slow travel,’ according to their site, which says Adam is an artist and Emily a fashion designer.
They wanted their site to ‘serve as a modern family portrait, as they shed their robes of comfort to re-examine the American Dream.’
‘They hope to inspire others to create, eat well, spend quality time together, and adventure into their own great backyards,’ the site says.
The couple financed their road trip by setting up 24Hour Bazaar, a website that sells Fair Trade goods from South American craft-rich areas to clients all over the world.
The incident involving the family-of-four comes a month after 44-year-old British woman Emma Kelty died in the Amazon after sharing fears for her safety on Facebook.
She was kayaking through Brazil when she was killed and her body was left in the river, according to a statement from the Amazonas state homicide division.