What actually begins as a beautiful day has a terrible end: eight-year-old Julia is lost on a hike. The search through the rocky forest takes two days – eventually she is found hypothermic but alive. A little miracle.
What a horror – and what a happy ending: eight-year-old Julia from Berlin has been missing in the Bohemian Forest since Sunday afternoon, at temperatures around freezing point in the rocky, densely overgrown terrain. After almost two days and two dark, cold nights, the good news from the police on Tuesday around 2 p.m.: Julia is back. A Czech forester had found them. Happy news for the family after days of terrible anxiety.
Hundreds of helpers in the search parties also breathed a sigh of relief. “There were also a few tears,” admitted a spokesman for the Upper Palatinate Police Headquarters on Bayerischer Rundfunk. The Czech police tweeted: “Excellent news”. And even Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann sent congratulations and spoke of the little bit of luck: “We all shared the excitement. Now I hope that Julia recovers quickly from the stresses of the past few days.”
According to Czech media reports, Julia was found around four kilometers from the place where she was lost – by a local gamekeeper, in the middle of the forest in the grass. How it got there was initially unclear. Everything had started so nicely: The family from Berlin went hiking on the mountain Cerchov on Sunday, which is called Schwarzkopf in German. Julia, her six-year-old brother and the nine-year-old cousin explored the area. In the late afternoon the parents lost sight of the children. The desperate parents called for help. Son and nephew reappeared, but Julia initially disappeared.
“A Sea of Rocks”
The Bohemian Forest is dense and rocky – there are many legends and myths about the area, which the poet Adalbert Stifter wrote about in the 19th century. The Czech forester Martin Semecky also knows his way around there well: “It’s a highly fragmented, dangerous terrain,” he says on the phone before the connection is broken again. Even the cell phone reception is very bad there. “They are deep forests, a sea of rocks.”
And in the middle of it all a girl, in freezing temperatures. For two days and two nights, around 1400 emergency services from Germany and the Czech Republic comb through the impassable forest area in the border area of the two countries between Waldmünchen, Furth im Wald and Domazlice. Fire brigade, mountain rescue service, foresters, employees of the Bohemian Forest National Park and police, some even on horseback. They form long human chains. Drones buzz in the air and helicopters crackle. On the ground, dogs try to sniff out a trace of the schoolgirl. And they find – nothing. Even a thermal imaging camera is unsuccessful. The treetops are too close, the clearings too seldom.
In between earlier military objects – after all, the entire border region was a restricted military area on the Czech side during the Cold War. The foresters check photo traps, high seats and feeding places for animals. And they look under rocks from which Julia could have fallen. The fact that Julia showed up in the end seems like a small miracle to many. For the parents of the child only one thing should count at the moment: they can hug their daughter again.