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Boy, 4, found safe after nearly 24 hours alone in California wilderness

Christian Ramirez, 4, was found "in good condition" after he disappeared from a campground near Huntington Lake and spent nearly 24 hours alone in the woods. Facebook via Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Two parents in California were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Friday when their missing 4-year-old was found safe after nearly 24 hours lost and alone in the wilderness.

Christian Ramirez, 4, was discovered by the Tulare County Search and Rescue Team around 8 a.m. local time on Friday, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Ramirez was spotted under a tree about a quarter mile (almost half a kilometre) from where he was last seen at a campground near Huntington Lake.

The boy had been camping in the area with his family when he disappeared around 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.

“Christian is in good condition. He was just tired and hungry,” the sheriff’s office wrote in their update. “He has been reunited with his parents.”

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Rescuers fed the hungry Ramierz boy a sandwich before reuniting him with his parents.

A rescuer holds Christian Ramirez as he eats a sandwich.
Christian Ramirez was “just tired and hungry” when he was found by rescuers — who thankfully had a sandwich to share. Facebook via Tulare County Sheriff's Office

More than 50 deputies and volunteers were involved in the rescue mission, which included ground and air crews, as well as search dogs, ABC7 reported.

The rescue team worked non-stop through the night to search for Ramirez. The sheriff’s office called the effort “an amazing show of teamwork and dedication.”

Lieutenant Brandon Pursell said Ramirez disappeared in a “wooded area” nearby the campground. The boy was wearing only his shoes, a T-shirt and shorts throughout the night he was missing.

More than 50 deputies and volunteers helped to find Christian Ramirez after his disappearance. Facebook via Fresno County Sheriff's Office

“It was pretty clear that he had been lost and he had kind of hunkered down for the entire night,” Pursell told ABC7.

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It’s unclear exactly how Ramirez became separated from his parents, though the boy is believed to have wandered off on his own.

“There’s a lot of things that could have gone really, really wrong with this one, and we got lucky, the family got lucky,” Pursell said, alluding to the region’s dangerous terrain and wildlife population.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has warned of “active bears” around the picnicking and camping areas of Huntington Beach and has asked guests to remain vigilant.

Authorities did not provide further details about the incident.

Pursell and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office have used Ramirez’s disappearance as a reminder to parents to keep a close eye on their children this summer.

“If you’re going to be up in the area, especially in the woods, around the waterways, and you have small children, you need to constantly be watching them. In any small break, the kid can be gone,” Pursell told ABC30.

Christian Ramierz’s parents said the 4-year-old has been in “great spirits” since his safe return. Facebook via Tulare County Sheriff's Office

Ramirez’s parents thanked rescuers and told NBC Los Angeles they are grateful for their son’s safe return. The parents said their son has been “happy, hungry and is in great spirits” since his return.

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“Thank you to everyone for your prayers, and most of all we are so blessed to serve a God that works miracles,” they said.

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