Two young siblings who vanished from their Jacksonville home over the weekend have been found safe, Florida authorities announced Tuesday.
The children, 6-year-old Braxton Williams and 5-year-old Bri’ya Williams, were found after getting lost in a wooded, swampy area, local outlet WFTV 9 reported. Authorities said the pair were found around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in a dilapidated pump house roughly a quarter mile from their home, ending a two-day search.
Their disappearance prompted a statewide AMBER Alert as police worked to locate the missing tots.
“Great News! The Florida AMBER Alert for Braxton and Bri’ya Williams of Jacksonville has been resolved,” Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement announced Tuesday. “The children are safe. Thank you for sharing!”
Braxton and Bri’ya were last seen playing in the front yard of their family’s home Sunday morning when a relative noticed they were gone and dialed police. They were officially reported missing two hours later and an AMBER Alert was issued by that evening.
“Right now everything is an option,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said at the time. “We are working multiple scenarios.”
At a Tuesday press conference, JSO Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters told reporters that authorities searched than 130 acres, more than 430 houses and at least 20 bodies of water to find the missing siblings. All hands were on deck, with police deploying drones, K-9 teams and police cruisers from multiple agencies to aid in the search effort.
Authorities were also on the lookout for a white, four-door sedan they said was spotted in the neighborhood and blasting loud children’s music. The possible connection to the car and the Williams’ disappearance is unknown.
It was one of the rescue team members who heard the youngsters talking and located them in the pump house. The children, who are thought to have had nothing to eat or drink since at least Sunday morning, were given water and candies, but the siblings were hungry for more and requested a cheese pizza. The rescuers happily obliged!
It was a major team effort in rescuing these two little kids….but these firemen wouldn’t let go of them till they got to the hospital. @lennycurry @jsosheriff @CityofJax @FirehouseNews @JSOPIO pic.twitter.com/UWDj9WuJob— MyJFRD (@JFRDJAX) December 18, 2019
It’s unclear if they were alone the whole time, but Williams said it’s likely the pair simply wandered off and got lost.
“I just thank God that they saved my cousin’s kids,” one relative said.
Authorities also said the children’s parents were “100 percent cooperative” with the investigation. The brother and sister were taken to a local area hospital for evaluation and are expected to be fine.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he was “overjoyed” that young Braxton and Bri’ya were found safe and sound.
“This is a Christmas miracle,” Curry said in a tweet. “I am thankful for the tireless efforts of first responders and compassionate members of our city. My prayers continue for this family, and I am so grateful for this positive outcome.”
Watch more in the video below.