Missing girl found safe: Emergency personnel, volunteers comb national forest for 17 hours

Scott Orr

The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT- A 14-year-old girl who was reported missing at Lynx Lake Thursday evening, June 4, spent the night in the surrounding national forest before she was found unharmed Friday at about 1 p.m.

Kadence Swift was camping with her adoptive family, who had come to the Prescott area from Phoenix on Tuesday. She was last seen Thursday playing on some rocks along the south shore of the lake. When her mother could not find her after two hours of looking, she called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies began a search immediately and a Department of Public Safety ranger helicopter with night-vision capabilities joined them.

The search continued into Friday, with help from nearly every area law enforcement and search agency, as well as help from the FBI and Homeland Security, pouring into the Lynx Lake South Shore parking area.

By noon, there were an estimated 150 people looking for Kadence on foot, horseback, ATV, and boat. The DPS helicopter roared overhead, following a search pattern.

YCSO Captain Jeff Newnum said that about 12 community members showed up, asking how they could help, and they were added to the effort.

It was one of these volunteers who finally spotted Kadence, Newnum said, although he did not identify the searcher.

Across the lake from the searchers' command post, perhaps a quarter-mile away, a man's voice bellowed, "I found her!"

Then she ran, followed by several searchers and deputies. Finally, she just stopped and sat down, Newnum said, so he sat down next to her and talked about what had happened.

" from Sierra Leone," Newnum said. "She was brought here to the United States at a young age, but still is suffering from the struggles she experienced in Sierra Leone.

"There are certain triggers that trigger a response from her," he said, "so that happened...and that's why she was running."

He said she had been on a ridge near the lake overnight, and "She did say that she saw the people looking for her." She had a small pack with food and a towel with her.

Kadence wanted help, Newnum said, but "I don't think she knows what she wants right now."

Newnum said that, because no one knew what had happened to Kadence, two simultaneous operations had been undertaken-a search-and-rescue effort and a response by the Child Abduction Response Team.

She was found in good shape, with no injuries.

"She's going through some struggles with some horrific things she experienced in Sierra Leone," Newnum said, noting that she would not face any charges and that she had just walked back with him and other search crew members to be reunited with her family.

Chief Deputy John Russell summed up his feelings simply as he walked among the returning searchers, shaking hands and backslapping them.

"I'm happy. I'm just happy," he said, with a wide smile.