Missing 3-year-old reunited with parents after spending night alone in state park

Ruby Heider, 3, is reunited with her parents.
Ruby Heider, 3, is reunited with her parents.(Sumter County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 4:56 PM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS/Gray News) – A 3-year-old was reunited with her parents after being missing for nearly 20 hours in Poinsett State Park in South Carolina.

Ruby Heider went missing around 7 p.m. Friday during a camping trip with family and friends.

Several agencies, including the FBI and Air Force, searched through the night and into the next morning to find the little girl. Bloodhounds and fellow campers also helped search the campgrounds.

Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said Ruby was found safe around 11 a.m. Saturday, although she was frightened, cold, and dehydrated. She was found just a mile away from where she went missing.

“Every camper in this campground came out,” said Tracey Hagen, a camper. “We came out with flashlights, we started calling her name. We checked in with every camper at the site knocking on doors, asking if they had seen her.”

Poinsett Park spans 1,000 acres. Dennis says Ruby wandered off while looking for the bathroom at the campsite.

Dennis thanked the community for coming to help search, and the sheriff’s office shared photos of Ruby’s reunion with her parents on Facebook.