The parents of a Washington state teenager found alive after nine days in the woods say she went missing after trying to cut through a forest after her car ran out of gas.
Giovanna ‘Gia’ Fuda, 18, disappeared on July 24 after visiting a coffee shop in Index, and her vehicle was found on a highway that winds through the rugged Cascade Mountains the following day.
Rescue crews spent more than a week searching surrounding areas and were beginning to lose hope when they finally discovered Gia near a ravine deep in the woods Saturday afternoon.
Investigators first described Gina’s disappearance as ‘suspicious’, and initially feared that she may have been abducted.
However, her parents have now told KIRO 7 that there was a far less sinister reason as to how she ended up missing.
After they were reunited with their daughter, the explained to them that she was driving along the remote section of Highway 2 when her car ran out of gas.
The parents of Washington state teenager Gia Fuda (center) have revealed she went missing after leaving her car to cut through a forest in the hopes of finding a bridge. They are pictured after being reunited on Saturday
Without cell phone service, Gina decided to set out through the forest to try and reach a bridge that leads into the town of Skykomish.
‘Little did she know that was down the road, way down the road, and on the other side,’ her father, Boby, told KIRO 7.
‘I think she was on a wild chase to find some coffee shops, and she completely thought she was going to North Bend, and she got a little turned around,’ mom, Kristin, added.
Gia left her car with only a small satchel which contained her cell phone and her Bible.
The recent high school graduate soon ended up losing her bearings in the dense forest, and was unable to find her way back out.
Giovanna ‘Gia’ Fuda, 18, (pictured) was found safe in a heavily wooded area of the Cascade Mountains on Saturday, eight days after she disappeared on July 24
Gia was subsequently reunited with her parents, Bob and Kristin, shortly after she was found on Saturday. They spoke about their emotional reunion with KIRO 7
Thankfully, she was able to locate water which kept her hydrated during her eight days in the woods.
‘Thank God there was a creek up there because that’s where she stayed cool. She said the trees kept her cool,’ Kristin stated.
Investigators say she stayed alive on berries and creek water.
Gia was subsequently reunited with her parents shortly after she was found on Saturday.
‘They [Gia and the authorities] pulled up in that Jeep, and it was holy cow, a miracle — there she was! We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,’ Bob recalled to KIRO 7.
‘It was just unreal to see her!’ Kristin enthused.
Authorities began looking for Fuda on July 24 after she left her home in Maple Valley without telling her parents where she was going and never returned
The map above shows where Fuda was last seen on July 24, where her car was found the following day and where she was located safe on Saturday
Bob and Kristin shared a selfie they snapped with their daughter as she recovers in a local hospital.
The image shows the youngster appearing in remarkably good health in spite of her eight-night ordeal.
‘She was drinking lots of liquids, eating pasta and ice cream. She looked really good!’ Kristin stated.
Authorities believe Fuda survived by eating berries and drinking from a ravine
Rescue crews spent more than a week searching the mountains and were beginning to lose hope when they finally discovered the teen near a ravine deep in the woods on Saturday
Authorities began looking for Gia after she left her home in Maple Valley without telling her parents where she was going and never returned.
She was last seen on surveillance video from a coffee shop in Index, and the next day her car was found abandoned on Highway 2 between Skykomish and Steven’s Pass.
Police were unable to track Gia’s phone because it didn’t have signal.
After days of searching turned up few signs of the teen, search and rescue crews on Saturday came across a notebook that belonged to her near a stream deep in the woods off the roadway.
They continued to follow the stream and located several items of clothing before finally finding her about two miles up a steep embankment.
Fuda was last seen on surveillance video (pictured) from a coffee shop in Index, Washington
Police released several photos from the coffee shop where Fuda was last seen