FAITHORN, Mich. (WJMN) — It was a normal evening in Faithorn for the Chase family on Wednesday before the disappearance and extensive search-and-rescue operation for their toddler. Brooke was home with her son and 2-year-old daughter Thea. Her husband Alex was at work. Also at the house was Marcus Christy, Alex’s brother in law.
“She is her uncle’s shadow and is constantly with him, that’s why it’s such a shock to us that she left his side,” said Brooke Chase.
“I was pressure-washing the side of the house and porch, and I’d taken a little break and we were hanging out for a minute,” Christy said. “I told her to go back in the house and she came around the corner again I told her no you need to go back in the house you know it’s getting dark, it’s time for bed you know, and we thought she went back in the house. I continued running pressure washer and pressure washing the deck in the house and I yelled in the haven’t turned the lights on for me and he asked me if the if the ozone here and we she was I thought she had one in the house you know so we instantly just started going in looking for you know, every everywhere.”
The realization set the whole family on high alert trying to do everything they could to find the toddler and after their initial search. They noticed she wasn’t the only one missing.
“We were searching all around the yard up and down the road, screaming at the top of our lungs her name, calling for the dogs because the dogs were missing too,” said Brooke.
It was about that time when Brooke called Alex at work. “My wife called me, and as soon as I heard her voice, I knew that something was definitely wrong. I didn’t think twice, I just came home.”
Brooke says the search for Thea started around 7:40 p.m., and by 8 p.m. police were mobilizing resources. Jeremy Hauswirth, Iron Mountain post Commander for Michigan State Police said “We had a lot of boots on the ground in a very short period of time. We had drones that were on site, police K-9’s from several different departments, both state police and county. We had citizen volunteers and search and rescue available.”
Christy and the Chase family said the response from the community was incredible. “This place was flocked with people within half an hour.” At the beginning of the search, Christy was optimistic. “My whole thought was that, you know, she had to be somewhere close by. We just needed people to help find her.”
Four long hours later came news of the discovery, not by the drones or the K-9’s, but a family friend on an ATV.
“He went way, way farther than anybody else was searching,” Brooke said. “and she was way out there. He had said that if it wasn’t for the dogs poking out of the trees, he would not have seen her.”
It was Buddy, the big Rottweiler that the man found first. Brooke says he was laying near a berm a short distance from an ATV trail. When he stopped to investigate, he found Thea sleeping with Hartley under her head.
When she was found, Brooke was at the house, and Marcus says he and Alex were leading a search party in another part of the woods when they got the word.
“As soon as we heard she was found I started running. And I was like I stopped because I was like oh I don’t even know where the heck she is. You know what I mean? Me and Alex both just started running. And then they said they’re enroute back to the house. We started running back to the house.”
As far as the police investigation, authorities don’t believe foul play or negligence played any part in the whole ordeal. Commander Hauswirth said sometimes things like this are inevitable. “I’ve raised four kids of my own, and you can be the best parent on the planet and they have their own minds. They will do things in an instant that will surprise you. Even the best of parents can blink and their child can be gone.”
With Thea in her arms, Brooke said, “She has no idea. The amount of stress that she put me through last night, and her father, and everybody else.”
The Chase family says they want to thank everyone involved in the search to find their daughter. If you want to learn more about what to do when a child goes missing, go to https://www.michigan.gov/msp/services/missingchildren.
(Original posted 9/21/2023)
A missing toddler has been found safe, according to Michigan State Police.
The 2-year-old girl was first reported missing Wednesday around 8 p.m., when police say she walked away from home with two family dogs. An extensive search followed with police using drones, k-9 units, search-and-rescue teams and local volunteers.
She was found three miles away from home by a local citizen on an ATV around midnight. She was safe, and sleeping with her head on the family’s small dog when she was discovered. The other, larger dog was still nearby.
The young girl was checked by medical staff afterwards and found to be in good health.
Local 3 will keep you updated here as this story develops.