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Michigan State Police: What to do if your child goes missing

Posted at 6:12 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 09:45:48-04

DETROIT — Michigan State Police want to make sure parents are taking the right steps to find their children if they ever go missing.

It was last Monday that Gabriella Vitale of Monroe County went missing, lost in the woods of Oscoda County on a camping trip. Luckily, she was found 27 hours later.

"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,” her father Dominic Vitale told 7 Action News after she was found.

Lieutenant Michael Shaw from Michigan State Police says there are steps parents should take if you ever find yourself in a similar situation:

  • Look in the obvious places first. Lt. Shaw says to check places like the basement, attic and garage. If after you check your immediate area and you still cannot find your child, call 911 right away.
  • Avoid calling friends, family or neighbors to help find your child and instead call 911. Lt. Shaw says getting more people involved in the initial search could through K9s off of a scent.
  • If you see anything that looks out of place, do not touch it. Again, it could throw K9s off. Instead, notify authorities.
  • Limit the amount of people helping in the search unless investigators tell you otherwise. Lt. Shaw say there are times when it becomes overwhelming to keep track of everyone will trying to find a missing child.

There are a few things you can do before the fact to ensure a quick recovery if a child disappears:

  • If you are on vacation or at a place like an amusement park, set up a place to meet if you and your child become separated.
  • Take a picture of your child if you are going to be out and about for the day.
  • Set up a tracking app if your child has a phone.