MONROE COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — After a nearly 27-hour search up north, 2-year-old Gabriella Vitale is home safe and sound. Her parents are thankful for the work law enforcement and everyone involved put in so Gabby could come home safe.
Dominic Vitale says it’s a miracle his little girl is alive today.
"At this point my mind is like running races and laps and I just can’t think straight," Dominic said.
The state of Michigan stood still for 24 hours praying for the safe return of 2-year-old Gabriella after she went missing Monday morning in Oscoda County.
"I had received a text from one of my friends saying, 'Is your daughter OK? Did you find her,'" Dominic said. "I didn’t understand what she was talking about so I went and did research and I found a link and a picture of Gabby and I completely lost it."
Dominic says when he found out his little girl was missing, he drove up north to the campsite where Gabriella was last seen. Law enforcement asked him a few questions about Gabby.
"Asking me just questions about Gabriella, how she acts when she's just playing around, does she hide and seek," he said.
Search crews found Gabby's jacket around 5 p.m Monday. Dominic believes she got tired of walking and used her jacket to cover-up and take a nap.
"I think she got hot when she woke up from the nap, and that’s what woke her up to start wandering again is the heat, and she left her jacket there," Dominic said.
More than 24 hours after she went missing, Gabriella was found a quarter to a half mile west of the campsite. She walked up to a porch and the people inside the home knew she was missing and called police right away.
"We definitely told her the rights and wrongs so that came into a big factor and it was God too, he led her to the light through the entire darkness of the forest," Dominic said.
The father added that to survive more than 24 hours in a dense forest is a miracle and when he got to hold his precious little girl again, it was priceless.
"That’s the type of feeling that you can’t really explain," Dominic said. "It’s something that you feel when I held her. I felt like I was bullet proof. I felt like nothing could harm me and nothing was going to harm her."
Gabriella’s family says she's doing well and they plan on spoiling her for the next few days.