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News / Northwest

Girl, 10, found after 24 hours lost in Kittitas County wilderness

By Vonnai Phair, The Seattle Times
Published: June 8, 2023, 7:51am

SEATTLE — After spending 24 hours missing in the Cle Elum River Valley, 10-year-old Shunghla Mashwani was reunited with her family on Monday.

The night before, she slept between some trees in the dense wilderness after being separated from her family Sunday afternoon, according to the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office.

Here’s how the day unfolded, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

On Sunday, 10-year-old Shunghla and her extended family gathered at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead on Fish Lake Road and were playing in the woods near the Cle Elum River.

When the family crossed a footbridge over the Cle Elum River to break for lunch, they noticed Shunghla was missing.

Around 20 adults in the group immediately started searching for her. There was no cell signal in the valley. The group searched for nearly two hours before someone on a utility terrain vehicle drove by and offered to use a satellite phone to call 911.

Shunghla’s family reported her missing shortly before 2 p.m.

After losing sight of her family members, Shunghla had hiked downstream through the forest.

The Sheriff’s Office launched a search, coordinating with Kittitas County Search and Rescue Volunteers, K9s and drones. Over half a dozen other law-enforcement agencies from across Western Washington joined the search through steep and rugged terrain, from the air with helicopters and in the Cle Elum River with swift water rescue teams.

At approximately 3 p.m. Monday, just over 24 hours after Shunghla’s family reported her missing, two search and rescue volunteers found her alive with only minor scrapes.

She had traveled south about 1.5 miles from where she was last seen, down the west side of the Cle Elum River. Snohomish County Swiftwater personnel used an inflatable rescue watercraft to bring her to the east side of the river, where she was reunited with her father.

The Mashwani family — who came to the U.S. from Afghanistan two years ago — told searchers they like to spend time in the high backcountry because it reminds them of home.

The Sheriff’s Office said Shunghla proved “an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old.”