Girl, 10, reunited with family after 24 hours lost alone in Washington mountains

Shunghla Mashwani, 10, was reunited with her family after being found alive in a mountain area in Washington. She was lost and alone for over 24 hours. Kittitas County Sheriff

A “resilient” 10-year-old girl was reunited with her family on Monday after she was lost and alone for 24 hours in the “rugged and remote” Cascade Mountain Range in Washington, police said.

Shunghla Mashwani was separated from her family in the Cle Elum River Valley, east of Seattle, while she was playing in the woods near Cle Elum River on Sunday afternoon, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Shunghla’s family reported the girl missing from Cathedral Pass Trailhead on Fish Lake Road at about 2 p.m. local time. The nearly 20 adults in the large group of extended family members realized Shunghla was missing when they congregated for lunch and the 10-year-old was not present.

The family initiated a frantic search for Shunghla. Since there is no cellphone service in the valley, the family searched alone for two hours until a passerby on a utility vehicle invited the family to use a Starlink phone, powered by satellite, at their cabin nearby.

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After the family called 911, police launched an immediate hunt for Shunghla alongside search and rescue volunteers, police dogs and unmanned drones. Volunteers from several nearby counties also joined in the effort.

“The search area was steep, rugged and remote, with dense trees and undergrowth cut through by the fast-running Cle Elum River,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

Many rescuers apparently worried Shunghla “might have been taken by the swift current” in the river.

More than 24 hours later, Shunghla was found alive on Monday around 3 p.m. nearly 2.5 kilometres from where she was last seen. The girl had only “minor scrapes.”

Shunghla told her family and police she’d become lost while searching for a footbridge near where her family was going to have lunch. The 10-year-old allegedly hiked downstream through dense forest and spent the night fighting off cold temperatures huddled between a grouping of trees. She told police she knew if she followed the river, it would eventually lead her to people.

Shunghla Mashwani and two search and rescue crew members on an inflatable raft after she was found on June 5, 2023. Kittitas County Sheriff

“She proved an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

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The two volunteers who found Shunghla helped her into an inflatable rescue watercraft so she could be brought back to the east side of the river where her family was waiting.

Shunghla Mashwani and a family member holding hands after her rescue. Kittitas County Sheriff

According to police, the Mashwani family immigrated to the U.S. only two years ago from Afghanistan. They told search and rescue crews they like to hike in the Cascade Mountain Range because it “reminds them of home.”

Click to play video: 'Safety tips for hiking with children'
Safety tips for hiking with children

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